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Forced off course by the Mandragora Helix, the Tardis lands in the province of S an Martino in fifteenth-century Italy. Here, the court astrologer, Hieronymous, has been taken over by the Mandragora energy-form--Hieronymous and the other mem bers of his star-worshipping black magic cult will be used as a bridgehead, enab ling the Mandragora Helix to conquer the Earth and rule it through their chosen servants. The Doctor has to defeat not only the Mandragora energy, but the evil schemes of the murderous Count Frederico who plans to usurp the place of his nep hew, the rightful ruler of the province. ISBN 0 426 11893 6
DOCTOR WHO AND THE MASQUE OF MANDRAGORA Based on the BBC television serial The Masque of Mandragora by Louis Marks by ar rangement with the British Broadcasting Corporation PHILIP HINCHCLIFFE published by The Paperback Division of W. H. Allen & Co. Ltd
H. re-sold. A Howard & Wyndham Company 44 Hill Street. hired out or otherwise circulat ed without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other t han that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. Bungay. Allen & Co. be lent.A Target Book Published in 1977 by the Paperback Division of W. printed and bound in Great B ritain by Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press) Ltd. London W1X 8LB Text of book copyr ight © 1977 Philip Hinchcliffe and Louis Marks `Doctor Who' series copyright © 1977 by the British Broadcasting Corporation Reproduced. L td. by way of trade or otherwise. . Suffolk ISBN 0 426 11893 6 This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not.
CONTENTS 1 The Mandragora Helix 2 The Brethren of Demnos 3 Execution! 4 Sacrific e 5 The Prince Must Die 6 The Secret of the Temple 7 The Spell of Evil 8 Torture ! 9 The Invasion Begins 10 Siege 11 Duel to the Death 12 The Final Eclipse .
The man who gave the order was se ated astride a majestic ebonyblack stallion. Suddenly the air was filled with the pounding of horses' hooves and a troop of armed men appeared. a nose ho oked like a vulture's beak. `Leave a fe w alive. The horseme n allowed them to get a short distance away then drew their swords and started t o ride them down.1 The Mandragora Helix The year was 1492. The man wore rich and elaborate clo thes denoting he was someone of rank and power. Their faces were lined and care-worn by years of drudgery but the ir natural high spirits remained undimmed as they swore and cajoled amongst them selves with great gusto. Swiftly they surrounded the defenceless peasants. the place--a remote principality in Northern Italy. a hunting outfit in red velvet c overed by a black silken cloak. They reached the brow of the hill and paused for breath . But this outward elegance was marred by his own features which were brutal and ugly: heavy-lidded eyes. their helmets and breastplates glinting in the sun. The s laughter continued for several minutes until a harsh voice rang out. to tell the others how insurrection is dealt with!' The captai n of the troop saluted and called his men off. As each peasant was caught he was mercilessly butchered. A handful of ragged peasants sweated and strained as they hauled a cart full of hay along a steep path. dark and cold. The dry grass exploded into flame. a mouth set in a permanent sneer. . the peasants began screaming and running in all directions. With a grin he tossed it into the cart. Captain. Te rrified. One of them brandished a burning torc h.
The animal darted forward at a gallop and the troop of horsemen fell in behind and followed. A tall blond young man touched his arm in comfo rt. `Hieronymous. Abruptly the priest's low mumblings came to a halt. a few paces removed. w ith a quick glance towards a large shuttered window. The Count dismounted and. clasping his thin bony hand. His eyes darted ceaselessly round the room like a trapped bird of prey. Giulian o. austere and imposing e ven in this last moment of life.' Giuliano nodded then turned round and faced the astr ologer. grave and respectful. was the bizarre figure of the court astrologer. `Make way! Make way for Count Federico!' The mounted troop thundered through the city gates scattering all be fore them and pulled up inside the palace courtyard. knelt a young man of about twenty. he wheeled his horse and spurred it savagely in the ribs. The Duke was dead. Around his deathbed were gathered all his courti ers. you foretold my father's death. He was strikingly handsome with long. His long thick beard. `He was a good man. By the old man's pillow. How?' . dark-b rown hair. This was his son and heir Giuliano. The old Duke of San Martino--a fe ared but just ruler--lay dying. Observing the scene. It was his childhood friend and companion Marco. A just and noble ruler. Hier onymous. Behind the shutters a sombre drama was being enacted. Giuliano rose and looked down on his father's face.Apparently pleased with the scene of bloodshed and carnage. The young Prince fought bravely t o control his emotions as the priest administered the Last Rites. entered the palace. Even those who knew him well felt uneasy in his presence . black skull cap and voluminous cloak gave him a strange a nd sinister appearance. It was over.
' replied the old soothsayer gravely. `I'm sorry you could not be present at my father's deathbed.' The astrolog er raised his arms heavenwards and turned to leave. So it is decreed.' `I see. not the stars. `I sn't that your sport. `I came as soo n as I could. `There was trouble among the peasants.' `But the exact day-the very hour--it's not possible. then the astrologer swept out. They needed teaching a lesson.' . `Remember he is strong and ruthless. A look of understanding passed between them unnoticed by any one else in the room..' said Giuliano bitingly.' Giuliano drew himself up proudly--his handsome face stern and regal. Giuliano smiled sarcastically. I thought you were out enjoying some sport.' The Count's eyes flashed with anger. As he reached the doors Coun t Federico entered. I want to rule over a land where there is no tyranny. `When Mars comes into conjunction with Saturn in the seventh layer. There were important matters of state to attend to. `You are upset my lord. `I am Duke now. `I am just a humble astrologer. death comes to great ones. We make our own lives.' said Marco soothingly. Uncle?' The Count stared hatefully at his nephew for a mom ent then turned on his heel and stalked out.`Everything is foretold by the stars. no blind ignorance and superstition like that old fool Hier onymous preaches. I only interpret their meaning.' H e rapped his thigh with a leather riding whip. I'm s orry. `but do not anger your uncle--not at this time.' He dropped his voi ce.' The young Prince clenched his fist in disbeli ef.. Uncle. and the moon is full-grown.
By his side was a pretty young woma n who kept asking questions as they walked along the corridor. . and now felt she knew him well. The craft was unusually shaped. seemed quite at home with this grandiose achievement and frequently comp lained when things went wrong. you happened to be an earthling from the mid-twentieth century. In which case you would have recog nised it as a very ordinary London police box. about eight fe et high and five feet square and on its top flashed a small white lamp. It had a n altogether enigmatic and alien appearance. Unless. a London journalist who had first met the Doctor several years before w hen he had visited Earth. Your father was in good health. the craft was infinitely larger than it was on the outs ide. But even then you would have been misled. She was Sarah Jan e Smith. He was dressed rather curiously in tweed trousers and a long re d-velvet frockcoat. that is. To be struck down so suddenly. She had accompanied him on other adventures since.. h owever. and Hieronymous did predict it exactly. `Nevertheless it is most remarkable. A ship which travell ed through Space and Time! Its inner workings embodied a secret which had eluded countless civilisations since the dawn of life itself. In fact it bore far more resemblance to a highly sophisticated space ship. The owner of the ship.Marco nodded in agreement. which is what it was. At this moment he was striding purposefully along one of the many gleaming white corridors which ran off the main control room.. and looked nothing like a police box. Round his neck he wore a very long woollen scarf of many col ours which trailed on the ground behind him. Because inside.' Far and deep in the Space-Time Vortex a strange blue craft blinked and shimmered like a shaft of light. H e was a tall curly-haired man of indeterminate age with sparkling blue eyes and a beaming smile.
`Hey what's this place?' Inside it was dark and dusty. The walls w ere panelled just like the main control room but in brown mahogany not white. No constant. `I've never bee n in this section before. She gazed round in fascination at the white walls with their weird hexa gonal indentations. `If I can remember the way. empty apart from a pair of shoes in the middle of the floor.' replied the Doctor. You humans have such little minds. `There are no m easurements in infinity. for example. you see. In . They seemed to glow with an unearthly light. This was the first time. `Five feet five and a quarter.' The Doctor pressed a button and the door closed. `One day I'll give you a proper guided tour.' she said admiringly. Sarah peered in. `That's not an answer.Even so the Doctor was always surprising her with something novel and unexpected . Sarah f rowned. Not very interesting. `All right--how big are y ou? At the moment?' Sarah drew herself up to her full height. I don't know why I l ike you.' The Doctor stopped and turned.' He continued walking. She pressed a button and the wall slid open to reveal a room beyond. `Doctor?' `Mmmm?' `Just how big is the TARDIS?' The Doctor shrugged. A vast room stretched out before her.' He strode off again.' He stopped by an open doorway. he had allowed her to really explore the TARDIS. `Ho w big is big? Relative dimensions. She was about to tell him not to be so rude when her attention was caught by a recess in the wall. which wasn't very tall.' `Bah!' snorted the Doctor. Sarah was not sure whether he was really cross or not. `What's this?' `Boot cupboard.
' Sarah frowned. . `It's getting into my head!' she cried.' `A n intelligence? You mean something living?' `Oh. `It's sucking us in!' yelled Sarah.' He thought for a moment. I should have known better than to cut through uncharted segments of the Vortex. It showe d a twisting swirling whirlpool of stars.the centre stood a hexagonal console. Sarah began to stagger.' He started to punch buttons furiously on the console. I thought we'd avoided it. Let' s see now.' said the Doctor appeari ng in the doorway. Doctor?' `A spiral of pure energy radiating outwards in ways we don't full y understand--except that at its centre there is a controlling intelligence.' shouted the Doctor as the sound increased. `What is the Mandragora H elix. `This is the secondary control centre. But that's all anyone's ever established. `Come to think of it this was the old one. `Let's hope we can counte r-magnetise enough to resist the pull. There was a hummin g noise and a section of one wall slid back to reveal a monitor screen. certainly living--in its fashio n. `I can run the TARDIS just as easily from here as from the ol d one.' The room began to shake more sever ely and a loud shrieking noise howled around them.' He pressed some coloured switches on the console. `We'll have to thrust straight through and hope we come out the other sid e. `Oh dear!' said the Doctor unhapp ily. a smaller more oldfashioned version of the one Sarah knew. The shrie king was becoming unbearable. At the sam e instant the TARDIS began to judder and sway. `Something wrong?' `It's the Mandragora Helix. formed into a giant spiral.
and so on into infinity...F... As he looked the Doctor realised that beyond the first circle of cry stals was a second. Stay here. The noise was like the screeching o f souls in torment. They had landed inside a circle of mountainous crystals which seemed to hang in the air like magic. It was i mpossible to tell how near or far away they were. X.D. . and a fourth..A!' Sarah opened her eyes triumphantly.B.. `Hard to say.`Concentrate Sarah ! Keep your mind on something -. They were now in the very eye of the Helix and plunging faste r and faster to the bottom of the whirlpool. The astrosextant rectifier has gone out of phase.. For a moment he felt he could almost reach out his hand and touch them. Z. U... V.C.' The Doctor stepped out from the TARDIS and looked around...... `No ill effects?' `I don't think so. Then suddenly the sensation died away and everything fell quiet and sti ll. The Doctor s miled at her from the floor. `. Y. The room seemed to buckle and split lik e a distorted mirror-image of itself and the noise intensified to an excruciatin g pitch. Go on. W.' The Doctor scrambled to his feet and examined t he console.. T..... `...' Sarah pressed her hands to her ea rs and forced herself to concentrate..' The room began t o spin and topple...anything!' `I can't! ` `Say the alphabet backwards. No o ther damage though.' He beamed brightly.. and a third... Are we there?' `Where?' `Where we were going.E. Then suddenly they were like distant m ountain ranges and the TARDIS a tiny speck on the shimmering plain between. `I'll just pop out and see where we are .. The Doctor wrestled with the controls but the violent motion s of the TARDIS hurled him to the floor.
Then.`I see what you mean about relative dimensions. I think we'd bette r get out of here.' said the Doctor quietly.' said a voice at his elbow. `That co uld have been very nasty. As it vanished a rumble of triumphant laughter echoed around the crystal mountains lik e a clap of thunder. it disappeared and the roaring wind faded to a distant moan.' Before the Doctor could finish Sarah grabbed his s leeve. Within a few secon ds the familiar white light began to flash and the TARDIS dematerialised. A look of alarm spread across the Doctor's face. if they will allow us to. . The air grew hot and red and a ball of blazing light seemed to envelop them and the TARDIS.. `That is. `Sssh! What's that noise?' A rushing rumbling sound like an approaching h urricane filled their ears.' He bundled S arah through the open door of the TARDIS and slammed it shut. `I t hought I told you to stay. `Come on. just a s swiftly. `Ma ndragora Energy! ` he whispered. `Quick--get down!' He threw an arm round Sarah and pulled her to safety behind a corner of the TARDIS..' He paused.
`so many deaths in so short a time.. Hieronymo us was tending a noxious substance bubbling inside a large brass cauldron. the court astrologer.' The Count snorted. a ncient books and bottled potions--all the paraphernalia of astromancy.' `But you said yourself it was writ ten in the stars. a faraway l ook in his eyes. How soon will he die?' Hieronymous continu ed to stir his foul concoction. crammed with old charts. The room was small and dark. He may suspect.2 The Brethren of Demnos `He angers me! The last obstacle between myself and the Dukedom. `Yes. `Don't say you are doubting your own prophecies?' The sorcerer's eyes flashed momentarily with anger. `I hav e been patient. `You mean your nephew. astrolobes.' `All the more reason to act quickly.. A day--two days at the most. `You must be patient. Now the Dukedom is almost in my grasp. Giuliano?' replied the cunning soothsayer. `Giuliano has a sharp mind.' the sorcerer went on craftily.' He curled his gloved han d in a crushing gesture. `Nevertheless. yes. .' A sneer spread over the Count's ugly features.' Count Federico spat out the words with venom as he paced the chamber of Hieronymous. He knew very well w hom the Count had in mind. all so sudden. You have the poison still ready?' Hierony mous did not reply but crossed to the casement window and gazed out. `Well? What's wrong?' the Count grew restless.
The Doctor scowled and scrambled out. `It's very pleasant. The young Duke Giuliano will die suddenly in two days' time. I will do the rest!' He swept angrily out of the room.' `I've felt as if my powers were growing. `and just look at those peaches over there. Sarah followe d with more difficulty. As he stared at the sky a clap of thunder echoed across the heavens like an omen from the gods. go on.' `Hah!' the Count scoffed.' `Go on.`These last few weeks as the summer solstice approaches I've felt. Hieronymous tugged on his beard for a m oment deep in thought. then crossed to the window once more. The climate was warm and sunny and Sarah delightedly stuffed her mouth full of grapes.. ` You mean you weren't in control?' enquired Sarah sweetly. `That's strange...' she said when her feet finally tou ched the ground and she could look around properly. The Doctor opened the door of the TARDIS and peered out.' Hieronymou s turned and paused. as if I had been chosen to be granted visions of the future. ..' She ran off u p the slope.' They appeared to be wedged in a very large bush overhanging a slope. knowing how touchy the Doctor was on this subject. `Del icious!' she shouted.' `The stars will not be mocked!' cried the astrologer fiercely. A forced landing. `And nei ther will I!' thundered the Count equally aroused. grapes!' She set off to explore. `Ooh look. soothsa yer. `So many correct predictions have gone to you r head. `Cast your horoscope. `You wouldn't understand. They had landed in a vineyard on the side of a hill.
He bent down and studied it. I think we'll be on our way.. Her lungs felt ready to burst and the blood rushed to her head. A piece of broken glass caught his eye on the ground a few feet aw ay. Suddenly she heard a noise. Before she could speak one of them clamped a large hand over her mouth..' He stood up and looked round for Sarah. She tried to struggle but the hand over her mouth was stopping her breath.' The words froze on her lips as the hooded assailants lunged towar ds her. Earth. Oblivious to the danger Sarah drew nearer and nearer th e hidden watchers. He gave up the problem and look ed about him. `Is that you. She began to hum a tune. They must have covered about a hundred yards when a voice rang out from behind them. `Hmm. late fifteenth-cent ury Italian. `Perhaps that's the reason I stopped using the ol d control room?' he muttered to himself puzzled. The larg est of them ran to attack the Doctor but as he got within arm's length he was su ddenly lifted off his feet and hurled through the air in a graceful arc. `Not a pleasant period. `Stop! ` Sarah's captors turned to see the imposing figure of the Doctor advancing towards them. She gave a little grin but didn't rep ly. The next moment she was being dragged away roughly through the bushes. She was nowhere to be seen .The Doctor seemed not to hear. Doct. He land ed heavily on the hard earth with a grunt and rolled over apparently unconscious . . Less than ten paces away three hooded figures in black robes were carefully watching her every move. Mediterranean. `Sarah! Where are you?' The Doctor's voice carried faintly over the hill to wh ere Sarah was now happily picking peaches.' He tossed it to one side.
A sharp stabbing pain in the back of his head reminded him all too clearly of what had occurred. He fell like a log. He wondered what to do next--everything was a disagreeable mystery. The third figure stepped over the Doct or's crumpled body and dropped the stone with which he had dealt the vicious blo w. Gingerly they lowered Sarah's inert form to the ground.' The Doctor stepped forward to examine Sarah but as he did so there was a flash of action behind him and a heavy stone crashed mercilessly against the back of his head. `Good. The Doctor slowly recovered consciousness and clambered to his fee t. All at once the door st arted to open slowly of its own accord and a blazing obelisk of fiery red light emerged. `Right. He shouted Sarah's name but she and the hooded figures had v anished. He was standing on a narrow footpath which led into a thick wood. and was now tossing them into a cart with a pitchfork. He decided he had no recourse but to follow it. As it moved it left a darkened trail of burnt and shrive lled foliage. Swiftly and silently.' The two hooded figures ob eyed. It was accompanied by a rushing shrieking sound which startled all the birds and sent them squawking away in panic. A hundred yards away the TARDIS s tood alone and unguarded. The path ran steeply down between mossy banks and overhanging trees and then levelled off after half a mile and came to a small l ake. Move away. On the opposite side was a peasant gathering rushes.' commanded the Doctor to the other two. the three of them lifted Sarah up again and disappeared with their bundle into the dark woods nearby. The ball of light hovered for a few seconds outside the TARDIS then set off gradually through the trees about three feet above the ground. partly hidden among the vines. .`Now put her down. He had already laid so me on the bank to dry.
`Mandragora Energy!' whispered the Doctor. He shuddered at the thought of what further destruction this evil and irresistible force might wreak. was the unwitting cause of the death he had just witnessed. horrified.' he said squinting through t he eye-piece. He glanced up and saw what looked like a red fire-ball swoo ping down towards the lake from out of the sky. Giuliano was seated at a table in his private chamber in the palace. The peasant was paralysed with fright. the Doctor. The face of the young Prince was pallid and wan but now and then a flicker o f life crossed his features as he toyed with various round pieces of glass on th e table in front of him. It was he who had brought this deadly menace t o Earth. It was all over in a matter of seconds. `who claims that by arranging ground glasses in . Whatever its purpose one fact was irrefutable. Eventually he took one up and fitted it inside a rudime ntarylooking telescope.' Grimly he studied the trail of smouldering grass indicating the passage of the lethal bolt. He clutched his pitchf ork in self-defence but before he could move the glowing phosphorescence rose ou t of the water and engulfed him in a sizzling flash. With him was Marco. Instead of their usual silken doublet and hose both men wore the official clothes of mourni ng. it plunged beneat h the water's surface and headed towards the peasant leaving a hissing bubbling trail in its wake. And at the moment he had no idea how to combat it. All that remain ed was a blackened corpse. The Doctor hurried to where the peasant had fallen. `It must have got into the TARDIS. `There's a man in Florence.The Doctor was on the point of calling out to him when he heard a strange screec hing sound overhead. As he watched. He.
jumping up from the table. Perhaps it is we who move!' Before Marco could respond the door to the cha mber burst open and Count Federico strode in followed by Hieronymous in his skul lcap and trailing robes. `I don't believe in horoscop es. Giuliano's animated mood was immediately dispelled. it is not of my doing--but this morning I was casting a horoscope--' `I've told you often enough.' Marco looked up from cleaning his sword. `Why? What's happened?' Federico motio ned the soothsayer forward. `It is customary to knock before entering a room. Marco. That's what this man in Florence is sa ying. `I'm sorr y. That way we can find out more about them. `Tell him. But it was there too plainly to be ignored. `What is there to know about the stars except how they mo ve in the heavens? And we've known that for hundreds of years. `What was there?' .' `That's the whol e point.' He broke off. `I only wish I too could not believe. Uncle.' Marco tossed back his blond hair and smiled. `but there is bad news. `Is that a good thing?' `Of course it's a good thing.' he said coolly.. `Perha ps they don't move as we think they move.certain orders it is possible to see the moon and stars as large as your hand. f orgive me.' exclaimed Giuliano excitedly. Giuliano.' interrupted Giuliano.' Hieronymous shook his head sadly..' Hieronymous bowed obsequiously.' Fo r a moment the young Duke looked fearful.' replied Federico without appearing so. `Sire.
' He stared into the young Duke's eyes.. But it was nothing to do with the stars. His foremost concern now was to recover Sa rah.`I cannot speak of it. this time in a mocking tone. He leant forward and took hold of Giuli ano's arm.' He stared straight at Federico who was forced to turn away beneath his unflinching gaze. There was intrigue and villainy afoot.' Hier onymous's face wore a pained expression.' He slapped his gloved palm with his riding whip and. Giulian o. Giuliano began to grasp the meaning of this charade.' Hieronymous glanced at Federico. scoffed. of that I am certain.' whispered the astrologer. `I have no intention of sacrificing my life to satisfy so me old superstitious nonsense. clearly overcome by the dire n ature of his premonition. Do not take these things lightly.' Federico smiled coldly. too. I remember my father. ` My death?' he scoffed. Take no risks of a ny kind.. `but we shall catch them--and make them pay for it. `His death remains a mystery. avoided. motioning Hieronymous to follow stalked out of the roo m. Uncle ?' Giuliano continued after a moment. The Doctor hurried on through the wood. `We think the y are being stirred up by spies sent from our enemies. He. The Count stepp ed forward.' `Yes.' replied the young Duke tightl ipped. `Remember your father. Perhaps it can be. `Please. Giuliano and Marco exchanged worried glances. He had abandoned the futile sear ch on foot for the Mandragora Energy. `And how are the troubles with the peasants. His long nose and raven black hair poked out from beneath a black ve lvet hat making him look more sinister than ever. . Gi uliano seemed unmoved. `I beg you not to leave the palace on any account. my lord.
The captain.' He broke off aware of a sudden panic i n their faces. probably got peac h juice all over her chin. `..' He suddenly whirled the rattle in front of the cap tain's horse.. The reason for their flight was quic kly explained as a troop of armed soldiers rode up and surrounded the Doctor. Th ey were attired in yellow and scarlet livery. addressed the Doctor rudely.' He push ed the sword aside and stabbed his peach on the point. In an instant the peasants had snatched up their belongings and f led into the woods leaving him quite alone. `My dear fellow. The animal shied and reared. By the way you haven't seen a young girl have you? About fiv e feet five and.' The captain whipped out his sword and held it to t he Doctor's throat.hold this for a moment.' said the Doctor..' `Silence!' the captain roared at him. dog! Produce your documents. He extracted a peach from his pocket and.. taken aback. unseating its rider.He rounded a bend in a path and came upon a group of peasants resting beneath a tree. taking a bite.' `Where from?' The Doctor smiled. you' d never believe me. `Extraordinary the things one carries about one's person. .. rummaging around in his pockets. The captain of the troop. `I think you'll find some of these rather interesti ng.. `Documents? Certainly-. was momentarily speechless. I was wondering if you had happened to see. `Excuse me... a heavil y built man with a scar on his left cheek.' The Do ctor raised an eyebrow. `Your life is in peril. He pulled out a large foo tball rattle and stared at it with vague surprise. I'm a traveller in these parts. approached the pe asants in a nonchalant manner. `Who are you?' `I'm a traveller.
struggling to get his breath back. The Doctor had no idea where he was heading. The force of the blow k nocked him unconscious and he lay there dishevelled and defenceless as the pursu ing captain and his troop arrived on the scene. He wheeled his horse to the right and set off down the clear pathway but too late saw it was a trap. In the confusion it took several seconds for the remaining soldiers to gather their wits and set off in pursuit. `Count Federico will want to question this one!' Sarah woke to find herself tied and gagged. As his horse passed beneath they dr opped like stones onto the Doctor's back and hurled him to the ground. The Docto r let out a cry of pain as his head caught a sharp rock. She . Approaching him from the left was a large body of mounted soldiers in the sam e scarlet and yellow livery. At some point he kne w he would have to leave the main path and set off into the woodland if he were to lose his trackers completely. This they eventually did with the scarfaced captain bellowing angry imprecations at their rear. Luckily the animal was strong and surefooted and gradually they began to draw clear of t heir pursuers.`After him!' yelled the captain. leapt into the sad dle and spurred the animal away down the path. But the Doct or was already doubling between the stationary horses like a hare in flight. Two men were bundling her through a warre n of dark stone passages. He rounded a bend and came to a fork in the pat h. The captain grunted with satisfa ction as he observed the Doctor's prostrate form. It was a long time since the Doctor had ridden a horse. `Bind the dog before he recove rs his wits!' he ordered. Above him in a large overhangi ng tree were two soldiers waiting to pounce. Bef ore anyone could move he had pulled a soldier from his mount.
Pres ently they entered a vast underground chamber like a huge cavern scooped out of a rocky hillside. A maiden of face and sturdy of body. `Try again. One of them stepped forward as she was dragged in.' `At what hour?' `At the n oon hour.' he said. `Exactly as it was foretol d. and still had not seen the fa ces of her kidnappers. More of the hooded figures formed a semi-circle around a recta ngular stone altar in the middle of the chamber. They kept their black cowls well forward like monks. The whole place smelt of occultism and magic. god of the twin realms of moontide and solstice. `Where w as she found?' `On the slopes of the Hill of Sorrows.' `You can forget the flattery.' `My child. His voice sounded reverential and priestly but Sarah felt sure this was not a Christian sect. he made no attempt to hide it.' . This time she could see his face.guessed they must be underground because the air was damp and chill and the only source of light came from burning torches set at intervals in the walls.' said Sar ah as her gag was removed. `What do you want?' The voice grew more incantatory. She re alised she must have lost consciousness when the hooded figures smothered her in the woods. a fanatical gleam in his eyes. `Release her . others are as innocent as lambs. He was tall and hollow-checked.' The priestly one nodded with satisfaction.' `Sorry?' replied Sarah not following his drif t. She had no idea how far they had come. the purity of your sacrifice renders it doubly welcom e to the mighty Demnos. `It is written that some are conscious of the purpose for which they are chosen.
Raising his voice he commanded. Th e priest ignored her. `Let her be prepared to re ceive the sacrificial blade!' Before Sarah could protest the two hooded brothers grabbed her arms and began to drag her across the floor of the chamber. .`Sacrifice? Now just a minute--' Their intention was now becoming very clear.
The Count's features contorted themselves into an even uglier expression. `I hear you led my ruffians quite a dance. It dawned on him that he was inside some s ort of palace.' The Doc tor smiled. Inside was a large and richly fur nished state-room. His captors stopped outside a pair of heavy ornate doors which sw ung open before them like magic. They entered. on his head the black velvet hat emphasised the coarseness of his face beneat h. Every so often a large st one pillar brushed past his shoulder. The Doctor noted the vulture-like nose and thin-lipped mouth and decided it w as not a face he could readily warm to. Where are you from?' `Does it matter?' responded the Doctor rudely. His head was muzzy and throbbed with pain. `You wear strange garments. He was elegantly dressed in silk and ermine robe s. sire.3 Execution ! The Doctor came round. `You are tall enou gh. In the centre flanked by guards in scarlet livery sat an impo sing figure on a raised throne. The Doctor recognised the voice as belonging to the scar-faced captain. So unds echoed loudly as if they were in a long corridor. Good for the liver. Answer my . `So!' Count Federico rose to his feet and studied the Doctor. His mind strug gled to focus itself. `This is the man.' `What is your name?' `Doc tor will do. Doctor.' The Count fingered the Doctor's coat. `Just a short gallop.' said a voice at the Doctor's elbow and he was thrust roughly forward. He was being half carried across a smooth marble floor.
' replied the Doctor sharply.' replied the Doctor impatiently. It could do un told damage. let me punish the insolent dog!' `Wait!' the Count waved him back.questions civilly and promptly or your body will be lengthened on the rack. Hieronymous. `His mind is afflicted. I must take it back to the stars.' said the Count with a glin t of understanding in his eyes. `Can you tell the future?' he asked slyly. `He professes sorcery.' `Well just ask your seer if he's ever seen an energy wav e. sire.. My seer.' `Do n't threaten me. is t he finest in the land.' Federico scowled. `I've come here to help you. `What langua ge is this? Make yourself plain. `An en ergy wave --part of the Mandragora Helix--has been released here.' There was a stunned silence the n a ripple of laughter ran through the room. `Let me put it th is way--a ball of heavenly fire has come to Earth and will consume all who stand in its path. He circled t he Doctor slowly as if inspecting an animal in a cage.' . the fall from the horse. An expression of eager cu nning crept over his ugly features..' He stared curiously at the Doctor. Federico was not to be put off. `The fellow puzzles me. ` I can tell your future.' The captain stepped forward ready to strike. The captain spoke first. `What help do I need?' The Doctor leant closer to explain.' `No. It must be neutralised immediately. `Sire. `But there is no gold for you in San Martino.' retorted the Doctor.' The Doctor looked round the circle of uncompre hending faces.' He smiled evilly at the Doctor. `and it's likely to be very short and very unpleasant unless you listen to me. He'd forgotten he was in the fifteenth century.
. I nside the palace Hieronymous was conducting his interrogation. He looked upwards and his whole body froze with horror. Swoopi ng down towards him from the sky was a blinding ball of fire about ten feet in d iameter. He drew his sword but it grew white hot and burst into flames..' he snarled ominously at the Doctor. Satisfied they were the last he called out. He stopped and turned. The sorcerer weav ed and bobbed around the Doctor like a monkey on a string. `If you are making sport with us. curfew. shooting questions at him . Under the broad arch of the city gates a burly soldier was shooing the stragglers inside. Then turning t o a guard he ordered Hieronymous to be summoned immediately.. `Close the gates!' Above him on the ramparts the ga tekeeper dodged into the winding room and the heavy doors began to close. Be warned!' Outside dusk was falling and the deep notes of the carillon rang across the city informing the inhabitants of the nightly curfew. Screamin g he scrabbled at the city gates trying to find the opening but they had already shut behind him.. Seco nds later the light disappeared. It seemed to be coming from t he air above him. As the soldier was about to slip through the narrowing gap his attention was caught by a strange shrieking noise. He was trapped. As he cowered against the archway the ball of fire descended upon him and engulfed his body in a blaze of dazzling light. `Curfew. a fat merchant from Padua. `we shall make sport with yo ur body. hurry along!' He prodded an overladen donkey through the o pening with its equally laden master. All that remained was the hideously shrivelled form of the hapless soldier. like a piece of scarred wood struck by lightning.The Count's face darkened and he fell silent for a moment or two.
' `What school of philosophy is that?' demanded the astrologer susp iciously.from all sides. The astrologer's black skull cap and t hick grey beard lent him a particularly sinister air in the Doctor's opinion. The Doctor smiled.' continued the soothsayer . All the time he kept one eye cocked towards his master Federico who sat watching quietly and impassively. `And you. `On whether the cock crows three times before dawn and twelve hens lay addled eggs. "my friend".' He glanc ed pointedly at Federico. `Surely you don't allow your selves to be taken in by this clap-trap?' `Silence!' .' Hieronymous scowled blackly. believe me. A look had passed between the two me n suggesting complicity in some business of which the other courtiers in the roo m were ignorant. All it needs is a colou rful imagination and a quick tongue. In addition he had noticed a suspicious looking phial of liquid which the sorcerer had brought to Federico on first entering.' He turned to the Count. have a mocking tongue. `I can easily instruct you. `This is really all a great waste of time. `It is you who are in danger. doesn't it?' `On what?' hissed Hieronymous smelling the chance of ensnaring his prey. `Now answer me this. `what does it signify when Venus is in opposition to Saturn and a great shadow passes over the moon?' The Doctor sighed. The Doctor ignored this veiled threat. rising from his chair. An uneasy fear was growing in the Doctor's mind that he had stu mbled into a complicated and dangerous state of affairs. And this childish inter rogation was not helping matters. which can lead you into great danger. `Well it depen ds.' `Answer him! ` commanded the Count.
' said the Doctor. `Who is that man?' asked the young Duke.' replied the Count coldly.' The Doctor was immediately seized by half a dozen guards and dragged from th e chamber. `Hieronymous studies the humours of the body as well as the patterns of the stars. `it's a dangerous habit.' `Not so dangerous as your failure to answer our quest ions. `Prepare the executio n. `Rat poison?' h e muttered to himself.' `Put that down! ` Fed erico hissed angrily. He turned to the captain. F ederico rose to leave but found his exit blocked by Giuliano. He had slipped in unnoticed. `Now wait a minute!' he yelled. For the present.' `Or an alchemist?' Giuliano's questioning gaze f ell on the phial of liquid. `you haven't listened to a word I've said--' The doors of the chamber slammed shut cutting off any further protest. `and in such an attractive bottle. the inquisition had apparently been abandoned and Hieronymous was whispering i ntently into his master's ear. nephew. however . `A spy.' He strode past Giuliano and out of the room. `A draught for easing my stomach. For the first time h e caught sight of a new-comer. The young . `You shouldn't leave poison lying about. a handsome young man with long dark-brown hair st anding in the shadows behind Federico's chair.The Doctor shrugged his shoulders and gazed round the room.' replied F ederico and he hurriedly pocketed the phial. and was now following the proceedings with great attention. Seizing his opportunity the Doctor casually uncap ped the phial of liquid left on the nearby table and sniffed it.
Yet. there was little he could do except wat ch--and wait. Unless she could find a way out of this place she would end up as just another sacrifice to their wretched god. Not far away in a cramped stone dungeon Sarah could hear the chanting. the signs were clear. She grabbed at the iron bars of the cell and tried t o budge them. her head was forced back and a goblet full of liquid pour ed down her throat.Duke looked after him thoughtfully. whatever his name was. Two brothers stepped inside and swi ftly seized her by the wrists while a third covered her in a long white robe. In the flickering torch-light they lent the scene a disturb ing and hellish touch. but could not prevent the robe from bein g put round her. Through the quickly . It was hopeless. Deep beneath the city the sacrificial chamber of the Brother of De mnos reverberated to the sound of a low and eerie chanting. Their faces were covered by grotesqu e and ancient masks hideously carved out of gold and silver into fixed expressio ns of hate and evil. On it lay a gl eaming sharply-pointed knife. The words were foreign soun ding and confused but their import was clear enough. This was the sacrificial blade. There was evil brewing between his uncle and Hieronymous. Sa rah struggled as fiercely as she could. It tasted sweet and sickly. Then a key turned in t he lock and the heavy metal door swung open. Then the priest entered the chamber carrying a silk cushion which he placed at one end of the altar. intoning strange litanies and orisons. It must have been a drug because instantly she began to feel drowsy and light-headed. Next. As each brother passed the altar he bowed and threw a pin k flower-petal onto the clean stone surface. A file of black-cowl ed figures processed slowly round the bare stone altar in the middle of the cham ber. She let out a sob of despair and sank to the floo r. The utter futility of her situation was all too clear.
In the palace the long marble corridors were deserted. In the main square in front of the palace c rowds pushed and squeezed their way forward towards a raised wooden platform on which stood an executioner's block. Rows of pikemen in the scarlet and yellow li very of Count Federico stood stiffly to . Above ground it was twilight.spreading numbness she heard the voice of the priest in the doorway. Few have the honour of serving the great god D emnos so totally. A small door opened halfway along one of the dim ly lit passages and a sinister skull-capped figure flitted into view. lowe r and lower until he reached the nethermost regions of the palace. When the moon rises over the southern obelisk your hour of glo ry will have come. he threaded his way down a maze of passageways. soft and so othing. `You are lucky. Normally at this hour a quiet peace wo uld fall on the city of San Martino as all and sundry retired for the night. the court astrologer. my child. and the wall swung away in front of him to reveal a se cret passage beyond. The candles on the walls flickered fitfully in the evening draughts and cast long shadows acro ss the richly patterned floors. But now the city was alive and buzzing. He stepped through. With the speed and sureness of one who h ad made the journey before. Finally. She tried to fight the effects of the drug. and the wall slid back into position wi th a clunk. he s topped in front of a rough stone wall. but consciousness was ebbing faster and faster away and finally she bl acked out. With practised ease he pressed his finger s against the stone-work. Swiftly and silently he traversed the corridor a nd disappeared down a narrow staircase. It was Hie ronymous.' The mellifluous tones grew more and more distant and Sarah r ealised she was losing control of her senses.
He carried an enormous two-handed sword. Suddenly. Their expressions were curious. The Doctor h alted in front of the block. As the Doctor mounted the steps of the wooden platform.attention at the foot of the dais. His chest and arms were bare and over his head he wore a black hood with eyeslits. eager. unless he could pull off the impossible--and som ehow this time the odds seemed stacked too firmly against him. a line of drummers stepped forward from beneath the palace entrance and began to beat a slow and solemn roll. the guards' horses snorted and pawed the ground impatiently. Then. The sky was a beautiful pale blue. Earth. and on all sides of the square mounted guards formed a protective cordon through which no one could escape. That was. At their head was the scar-faced ca ptain who had first captured him. was about to dispense with h is services for ever. . sat Count Federico. the pl anet he had come to know and love as a second home. the crowd fell silent and there was no sound apart fr om the measured beat of the drums. The Doctor. He raised his eyes above the crowd to the trees and hills beyond. At a signal from a balcony above he took up his position on the platform. stern and tight-lipped. He looked round at the sea of faces. How ironic. a ghost of a smile played around the Count's cruel mouth. that he was to lose his life in this little backwater of human existence. hidden by shadows. The crowd grew fi dgety and restless. thought the Doctor. was led i nto the square flanked by four armed guards. fingered with red. A gasp of fear and ex citement ran through the square as the deathly figure of the executioner appeare d. fearful--that peculiar mixture of emotions which always accompanies moments of spectacle and violence. everyone was waiting. In the balcony. and the drumming ended abruptly.
The executioner stepped forward and gently positioned his head on the block. at a signal from Count Federico.He glanced about him. . The platform was surrounded by pikemen and beyond them a r ing of horsemen blocked any form of escape. He was sweating. ` Kneel! ` He was forced to his knees by two guards who then stepped smartly away. If only he had more time to think. the executioner raised his m assive sword in a slow back-wards arc and stood poised to deliver the deadly blo w. Then. It felt strangely comfortable. The Doctor loosened the scarf around his neck.
his sword narrowly missing the Doctor's head as it fell from his grasp. wheeled round past the remaining guard who was to o surprised to move. landing expertly. With one blow he swept the rider from his saddle and dug his heels into t he horse's flanks. He quickly reined in the horse and . Scattering onlookers and guards alike the Doctor hurtled towards th e nearest exit from the square. `Fools! Stop him!' screamed Federico at the top of his voic e. the Doctor leapt to his feet and took a running dive off the edge of the platform. Then in one explosive movement he flung it round the executi oner's ankles and pulled. The man tumbled onto the wooden boards in an ungainly heap.4 Sacrifice `Excuse me. The startled animal reared violently and bolted like a bullet from a gun.' said the Doctor lifting his head from the block. Blocking his path were two pikemen and a mounted soldier but the Doctor's steed vaulted the long pointed staves like a champion hurdler and.' He flashed a smile at the executioner who froz e like a statue in mid-swing. `I always like to look my best on these occasions. He sailed through the air over the he ads of the astonished pikemen and landed with a thud on the back of the nearest horse. But the Do ctor had a head start and was already out of sight and racing through the cobble d streets like a man possessed. In the moment of confusion that followed. Carefully and unhurriedly. Ahead a low parapet ran along one side of t he street. the Doctor began to unw ind his long scarf. He knew it would be foolish to try and outrace h is pursuers over any great distance. Tumbling over themselves in haste the remaining guards gave chase.
He pushed against the wall with both hands. He slithered and stumbled to the bottom only to discover he was trapped in a dark stone grotto. not knowing which way to turn. giving the gallant animal a good slap on the rump. Then. The excited yells of the pikemen grew nearer. He could see the flicker of torchlight through t he trees. He was walled in on all sides by w hat looked like ancient ruins. and set off down a narrow winding path. Apart from the s lope he had just come down there was no exit. He had travelled no more than a couple of hundred yards when he heard voices cal ling out on either side of him. Suddenly. Unable to believe his good . Although it was growing dark. and it swung open to revea l a narrow flight of steps leading into the ground. Seconds later the clattering hooves of the pursuing troop thundered by inches from his head. He was cornered like a rat in a hole. He guessed it must be part of the palace gardens. he could make out a num ber of paths leading from the terrace into a maze of wooden arbours and grottos. he swung over the parapet and waited. Then an extraordinary thing happened. He hesita ted. Below him was a drop of about twelve feet onto a paved terrace. He dropped nimbly onto the terrace. No doubt the Guard would star t searching there very shortly. As the Doctor's back pressed against the rough stonework he felt the wall behind him mo ve! He spun round and sure enough a gap had appeared in the masonry the height o f a door.jumped from the saddle. knowing the growing darkness would help p rotect him. two pikemen appeared on the pathwa y ahead. In desperation the Do ctor dived off the path and down a bushy slope. He remained perfectly still until sure they were gone. but at least the trees would afford him some cov er. They let out a cry and began running towards him. then let out his breath and looked around. The search parties were out quicker than he had anticipated.
fear creeping into his voice. He pressed himself back into a niche in the rock-wall. He must have been convinced by his companion's reasoning because the next thing the two of them could be he ard cursing and grunting as they climbed back up the steep slope. and heaved it back into pla ce behind him. He set off cautio usly down the narrow stone steps and into the thickening gloom of the catacombs. `and there's no way out! Are we chasing a phantom?' `Or a worshipper of Demnos?' whispered the second. The Doct or could hear their astonished conversation through the wall. The pikeman's talk about th e worshippers of Demnos had aroused his curiosity.' said the other restraining his companion. `I'd not venture into those catacombs for all the gold in Rome. `No Giovanni. Moments later the two pikemen arrived on the other side. `I swear he came i n here. They sounded very much like t he hooded brothers who had kidnapped Sarah. `T hose devils know a hundred secret ways through the city. A few feet a head lay an intersection with another passage and down it he could hear footstep s approaching. . I kno w men who've tried and never been seen again! ` There was a pause and the first pikeman muttered something the Doctor did not catch.' said the first.fortune the Doctor stepped smartly through the door.' `A passage? Quick then . The Doctor bre athed a sigh of relief and considered his next move. let's find the trick!' The Doctor held his breath as the first pikeman began t o push and prod at the stonework. He had not gone very far when a sixth sense alerted him to danger. If he had stumbled upon an entrance to their meeting place then he might well be able to find her.
' said the Prince reassuringly. The Doctor tip-toed through and the secret door swu ng to behind him. A guardsman looked on. `You did well to bring him to me. The Doctor waited several moments th en emerged from his niche and approached the rock-face.. the same rumbling noise occurred. stretched out its arms and pressed the stonework. facing the blank wall. with your interest in the new learning. It stopped at the junction of the two passageways and. There was a rumble and where the fi gure had pushed the rockface a section of it now slid aside. I've not seen a corpse like this before.' `Then what is it. But the new learning does not alway s have answers.The footsteps grew nearer and finally a figure in long purple robes appeared out of the darkness. `such things are pure superstition. It means only that we must throw away old beliefs like witchcraf t.. `Poor man. sorcery and demons and trust our own intelligence.. Carefully he explored th e blank wall with the tips of his fingers until he discovered a small indentatio n. and the wall slid aside to reve al a further passage beyond. In a quiet ante-room in the palace Giuliano was examining the body of the sentry killed outside the city gates. `No it is not a fire demon. fearful and wide-eyed.' .' mentioned the guardsman.' `We thought. `. He pressed.. then covered the body with a sheet.' He frowned.' The Prince put up his hand.. genuinely puz zled. From where he was hiding the Doctor could only glimpse the outline of the figure but he felt s ure it was wearing a head-mask of some kind. The figure stepped through and the entrance closed behind him. sire?' `His skin is such a str ange colour..
sire. the ma sked visage seemed the embodiment of evil. A second figure cloaked in pu rple robes and wearing a mask carved from pure gold emerged from a small hidden entrance near the altar. As the y danced around their victim their grotesque masks seemed to come alive in the f lickering torchlight. deep-set eyes. The ritual continued f or several minutes. Then the brothers dropped to the floor and knelt towards the altar. Robed in white and looking deathly p ale Sarah lay unconscious on the sacrificial altar.. old friend?' Marco winced at the sight and h e looked questioningly at his young master. I once heard of a case in Florenc e. like ghouls awakened from the dead.' The guard bowed low and left the room. With its leering mouth and cruel. `He was fou nd at the city gate. `What do you make of it. You may return to your duties. my lord. Around her a hundred hooded figures whirled like dervishes in a mounting frenzy of religious fervour.' He stopped as he caught sight of the body on the couch. . The High Priest appeared at one end of the chamber and made his way slow ly to the head of the altar. A respon se of feverish excitement rang around the chamber. A moment later Marco entered.' The Prince smiled at him. `No further new s.' He lead his companion to the couch and pulled back the sheet. Marco. Grasping the sacrificial blade which lay on the cus hion by Sarah's head he turned and displayed it to the kneeling throng.. `All right.`I still think it could be a fine demon.
It took a few moments for him to realise what .The figure approached the altar and took up a position on the highest step. that telepathic power which Tim e Lords possess told him Sarah was ahead and in danger. The High Priest bowed to him and began to chant. The chanting of the High Priest and the responses of the brothers rose to a pitch of hysteria. It dug into the sto ne surface with a steely clang almost throwing the masked figure off balance. He had reached a dimly lit pas-sage not far from the main chamber. He hurried on. `Let the sacrifice be swift and cer tain lest the great god Demnos be displeased!' `So shall it be. Both the High Priest and the masked figure wer e gazing upwards to the roof of the cavern incanting the final phrases of their votive offering. the Doctor swept Sarah up in his arm s and lifted her bodily from the path of the flashing blade.' replied the mas ked figure and taking hold of the sacrificial knife he raised it point downward over Sarah's defenceless form. echoing round the vast chamber in a cacophony of sound. sixth sense. the sacrificial knife poise d ready to plunge into her heart. But that shock was superseded by an even greater one as he spied Sarah on the altar. In the instant's delay. As the voice of the masked figure reached a cl imax and the knife began its rapid descent. drawn by t he mesmeric incantation. The eerie chanting sound which he had heard for seve ral minutes now began to ring more loudly in his ears. the Doctor leapt through the kneeling b odies and gained the altar steps. For a second he was stunned by the sheer numbers of black h ooded figures covering the floor of the cavern. He rounded one more bend in the tunnel and there in front was the chamber and the source of the sound he had been following. The Doctor paused. Intuition.
our temple is restored. The brothers. `our prayers are answered.. He turned to see Sarah. `It seems our own little bi t of the Mandragora Helix has finally got here. The entire chamber had begun to glow with an ethereal light and the sound of a great rushing wind reverberated around the cavernous walls.' . look!' he cried. Then the Doctor heard a familiar whining noise and the glowing red sphere o f Mandragora Energy descended through the roof of the cavern. The remainder were still too confused to take in the situatio n. Sarah. Thankful to be able to release her weight f rom his arms he lowered her carefully to the ground. The Doctor struggled with Sarah towards the passage which led from the chambe r. arms u praised in a supplicating gesture. `What is it? What's happening?' whispered a t iny weak voice in the Doctor's ear. `Seize him!' The High Priest ran down the altar steps followed by three brothers. her eyes half open i n an effort to regain consciousness. the broken rocky mas ses which formed the chamber walls began to shimmer and pulsate and the ghostly outline of a beautiful..' As the Doctor watched. pillared temple complete in every detail filled the cham ber. turned to face the altar where the masked figure in purple now stood rooted to the spot. The pursuing brothers were almost on him when something so remarkable occurre d it halted them dead in their tracks. `Brothers.had happened but then he let out a scream of rage and pointed to the fleeing for m of the Doctor. and engulfed the a ltar in a dazzling blaze of light. including the Doctor's pursuers.
une arthly in tone and cadence. Do you understand us?' The masked figure nodded and replied. `Look!' As they stared at the altar a column of radiant light appear ed at one end. like a current of high-voltage power. reverberated around the chamber. Taking Sarah's arm he led her on tiptoe out of the chamber. Plucking up courage the High Priest approached the altar and bowed rever entially. It emanated from th e column of light itself.' whispered the Doctor. `Stand back! ` commanded the masked figure . It was as if the stone slab had so mehow absorbed the Energy. `Faith! ` Then the High Priest let out a cry. After a few seconds a distant booming voice. hesitated a moment. brother. The masked figure reached the top of the steps. The figure seemed to suffer no pain. rather he was held by the radiant col umn in an ecstasy of paralysis.' it said . `I understand. His purple robes glit tered and shimmered. The Priest and surrounding brethren fell away from the altar as they were bid and the masked figure slowly climbed the altar steps. `It is a dream of two thousand years come true! How is it possible?' ` Faith.As he spoke the light around the altar faded. It was about three feet in diameter and seemed to shine straight down through the roof of the chamber.' . `Time to leave. `Through us you will become supreme ruler of Earth.' responded the masked figure. and from the eyeslits in his mask flashed an incandescent l ight. then stepped into the pillar of light! He was instantly illuminated in a blinding supernatural glow. `You have been chosen for powers undreamt of. Behind them the attention of the a ssembled brethren was still diverted as they gazed with awe upon their restored temple. The light looked immensely dangerous.
But rem ember--no word of this to a living soul. Once there. Revealed beneath it were the sini ster grinning features of Hieronymous. he began to disrobe. You and you alone will carry o ut our will on Earth. The masked figure. `There is one being apart from you who knows of our purposes .' he announced. He hurried along a narrow passage which led finally through a secret door int o a small vestibule. and the ghostly outline of the temple disappeared leaving only the bare stone altar in the ruino us cavern as before. With no further word the masked figure also left the chambe r. As the long purple vestmen ts fell to the ground the figure turned to face a mirror on the wall. `Any other mortal who d ares stand where you stand now will he destroyed. `Go. .`Only you must stand in this spot. The light faded abruptly. He must be found and eliminated!' `How? How must I do this?' This time there was no reply. turned to address the astonished brethren. He is called the Doctor.' the voice continued. Raising bo th hands he carefully removed the golden mask. `The service is concluded. the court astrologer! He stared at his ow n image in the mirror for several long moments. `Power undream t of! Supreme ruler of the universe!' His eyes blazed with hypnotic fascination. as if his entire being had succumbed to that overwhelming and irresistible idea . `What must I do?' whispered the masked figure obediently. Finally he spoke. no longer illuminated.' Dazed and mute with wonder the brother s began to disperse.' There was a pause.
She was still suffering from the effects of the drug and every so often. `We'll have to wait here for a while. After ten minutes or so a pale light filtered into the passage ahead and th e close.The Doctor guided Sarah hurriedly though a maze of underground passages. it seem ed they had come upon an entrance which led out into the palace gardens at anoth er point. `Anything's better t han being sacrificed to the great god Demnos. What has the Mandragora Helix to do with them? What we saw back there was a subthermal recom bination of ionised plasma.' `So why are they still around in th e fifteenth century?' Sarah's voice echoed in the darkness. which was supp osed to have died out in the third century. It had come in a flash of memory. `And what have they got to do with the Mandragora Helix?' `Put it the other way.' There was a slight pause. As he peered into the gloom he could make out groups of soldiers still searching by torchlight.' .' said Sarah. Ever since he had heard it on the lips of the pikemen it had rankled at t he back of his mind. Sarah. fetid atmosphere gave way to softer. `I should have thought of that. `Simple. stumbled and f ell. The Doctor settled Sa rah into an alcove and went to explore. Sarah grinned back. However. `A particularly nasty Roman cult. He had hoped to retrace his steps back t o the secret door but the warren of catacombs had defeated him. He nipped back to Sarah. The Doctor nodded.' He gave her a cheerful smile. fresher air.' `Demnos?' The Doctor muttered the name. `Have you heard of him?' asked Sarah.
' `Wha t?' Sarah nodded towards the darkness behind him. `The Intelligences that in-habit the Helix don't have a physical existence in the way that you or I would understand it. .' The Doctor laughed. what is their intention?'. They both obeye d and allowed themselves to be prodded out of the tunnel and into the palace gar dens. `Come in Number Seven your time is up.`The question is. The Doctor whirled round.' continued the Doctor. their long pikes glintin g in the reflected moonlight from the entrance. Four large shapes were advancing towards them in the gloom.. Resistance was futile.. He tailed off ruminating on the problem .. obscure little planet li ke Earth.' The Doctor was about to speculate further when he received a nu dge in the ribs from Sarah's elbow. They surrounded the Doctor and S arah and motioned the pair to their feet.. They do n't need Earth. `why a remote. `Just when the conversation was getting interesting too. `Conquest? Invasion? They want to take over Earth and fill it full of old Roma n temples.' sighed the Docto r loudly and gave a wink of encouragement to Sarah.
`Count Federico.' said the young man. Duke of San Martino.' He gave a brief smile. ` I apologise if you were roughly handled. Marco.' A tall fair-haired young man stepped fo rward from the back of the room where he had been concealed in the shadows. a few of the guards are still loyal to their Prince. Sarah felt a sudden sense of rel ief. and finally bundled them into a small wood-panelled chamber.5 The Prince Must Die The Doctor and Sarah were led hurriedly through the gardens and into the palace itself. The young man nodded curtly to the guard s who released their hold on the prisoners and left the room. `And this is my companion. `And that's you?' `Giuliano. The Doctor recognised him immediately as the stranger who had obs erved his interrogation by Hieronymous. A handsome youn g man with dark-brown hair and wearing fine garments rose from a table as they w ere thrust in. My uncle has men searching for you everywhere. He has given orders that y ou be executed immediately you are found. their captors marched them silently along dimly lit corrido rs. . Luckily. Once inside. `Your uncle?' The young man nodded. `Tell me more about your uncle. `Speed was essenti al.' The young man bowed poli tely. He b owed stiffly. `Whatever happened to that old-time Italian courtesy?' complained Sarah rubbing her sore wrists.' The Doctor looked surprised.' said the Doctor.
' The Doctor nodded understand ingly. Giul iano crossed to a screened alcove at the rear of the chamber. `Were he ever to rule San Martino all knowl edge. The Prince lo oked serious. if you don't mind my saying so you look good for at least another fifty years. `I do not fear so much for myself as for the people. `And that's what he wants? Well Giuliano.' The Prince lowered his eyes.' replied the Prince in a level voice.' `I try not to. `Certain. `From the way you spoke to him I take it you are a man of science?' His eyes searched the Doctor's intelligently.' He snatched back the screen to r eveal a dead body on a pallet. `There are things I want to show you. once one of Federico's gu ards. Doctor.' smiled the Doctor.' `While Giuliano lives Federico can never c laim the throne.' explained Marco. `Hieronymous? I shouldn't take too much notice of him. `I am to die. `How flattering! But surely you've not gone to all these lengths just to enjoy my company?' In answer. `I do dabble a li ttle.' The Doctor seemed amused. `My uncle is a tyrant. Hieronymous has predicted it. all attempt at learning would be suppressed. `Excellent! I crave for contact with men of int ellect and understanding.`The Count murdered Giuliano's father. The body. This--for example.' interposed Marco with vehemence.' `And now he's plotting to kill Giuliano. ' `I take it you don't get on with your uncle.' continued the young Prince. `Are yo u certain?' Giuliano nodded.' said the Doctor modestly. Sarah winced.' The Doctor gave a snort of derision. . was hideously disfigured with burn marks.
' explained the Prince. `Well. `You're not talking his language. `Something has certainly entered the city.?' snarled the Count impatiently. `Yes Helix Energy.. I of cours e do not accept such superstitions.The Doctor stepped back looking grim.' Giuliano looked puzzled. `Exactly. `This man's body was found by the city ga tes. Meanwhile Count Federico strode about hi s chamber like a caged tiger. There was a knock at his door and t he scar-faced captain entered and bowed. `Why here? Why now?' `And what has it got to do with the Cult of Demnos?' piped up Sarah. High ionisation. `I don't understand. awaiting news.' `Nevertheless?' enquired the Doctor. sire. Is it possible that something has entered the city-perhaps something conjured up by Hieronymous?' The Doctor shook his head gravely . and through the open window came distant yel ls of guards still hunting the gardens. It onl y has to touch human tissue. The question is why?' The Prince still s eemed puzzled..' The Doctor dug his hands deep into his po ckets and began pacing the room.' interjected Sarah. The cla nk of armour and shuffling footsteps echoed along the palace corridors indicatin g the search was being intensified. `Have you nothing to report?' `Only that they have disappeared.' Outside Giuliano's chamber there were increasing signs of activity. `The guards are muttering of fire devils.' ... `We seem to have rather a lot of questions. Doctor. Giuliano--a malevolent power quite beyond the experience of that old fake. It's time we started finding a few answe rs. Giulia no frowned. `It worries me.' exclaimed the Doctor.
.. `To the King of Naples?' he read aloud. `Sire. Take all the men you need. The captain bowed silently but remained where he stood. `What is it?' The captain took out a piece of paper from his belt.' he said softly.`Impossible!' exploded Federico. the Do ge of Venice.' Federico span round and snatched the list.' The Co unt's face grew black with fury. Federico's broad back remained firmly turned. Moments later there was a sharp rat-a-tat at Hieronymous's door and Federico strode in. Signoria of Florence. hurled it against the w all and stormed out of the chamber. `I did not say enter.' He turned his back on the captain and waved him angrily out of th e room. `To celebrate his accession to the Dukedom. His face wore a cool and reserved expression unlike his normal obsequious ma nner... A look of contempt appeared on the Count's ugly face. the Duke of Padua. `They are the rulers who have accepted Giuliano's invitation and are com ing to San Martino.. Hieronymous looked up in surprise fr om a pile of ancient charts he was studying. He aimed a kick at a nearby footstool. `. .' explained the captain in a servile tone.. the Duke of Milan. `There h as been no sign of them since they were last seen in the palace gardens.. I want every corner of the palace searched.' His expression grew more enraged by eac h name... `This list--it was prepared by the Duke Giuliano's secretary.. `What?' Federico seemed momentarily taken aback. The arrogant puppy!' He screwed up the list in his hand. `They must be found! Something about that Docto r disturbs me greatly.' he said curt ly.
`He's called a gathering here of all the leading scholars and philosophers in Italy and their patrons. `He must die. `In this palace. `I have studying to do. `I want you to announce that you have made a new finding. Tonight! ` Hieronymous drew himself up to his full height and shook his head solemnly.`I wish to be left alone. I come and go as I please.' He fixed Hieronymous with a penetrating stare.' `Why not? I have the poison. `It is not nonsense.' retorted th e astrologer. `Don't you see what it means? With all those important people here. he will esta blish his power in the state for good. astrologer.' Hieronymous said nothing for a moment then responded in a more conciliatory fashion. it is urgent!' shouted Federico. `We cannot wait until Mars or Saturn or whatever other nonsense it was you said--Giuliano must die at once.' The Count's eyes narrowed and he leant forward threateni ngly.' `So?' Federico banged his fist down on H ieronymous's charts. `Th is is my private room. But if t here is something urgent you want?' `Yes.' Hieronymous looked up sharply.' he waved hi s . then realising he might be overheard lowered his voice. Federico continued unheeding.' snapped the old soothsayer and returned to his charts .' Federico scowled.' growled Federico. `So it will be harder to get rid of him!' He paused for bre ath. `Whatever room you have here is because I allow it. `It cannot be. Hieronymous. do not get above yourself. I've warned you before . at his invitation. `Gathering?' Federico nodded impatiently.
' snapped the Count. `You're asking me to invent a horoscope. `Sudden death!' Hieronymous withdrew .' His voice grew menacing. `some new conjunction has come to light. as you did before. You'll think of.' Federico took hold o f Hieronymous by the shoulders and shook him violently. A look of hurt appeared on the soothsayer's visage. `Tonight! ` .' `That's what you always do. ' He pressed his face close to Hieronymous.arm airily. `Do you know what power is held b y the celestial bodies? They are not at our beck and call. `I'm asking you to help me. `Do you know wha t it is you are mocking?' He raised his voice. something. `Giuliano must die tonight! Do you understand?' He bellowed in the soothsayer's ears.
' replied the Doctor suddenly attracted by the idea. through an ancient religion.' `I think you're doing a great job. `The Helix Energy has penetrated eve ry stone. picking at a bunch of grapes on the table in front of her. `Perhaps because the worshippers of Demnos offer a ready m ade power-base.either sub. who had been pacing up and down all this time expounding t heories.' The spea ker was Giuliano and his handsome features wore a vexed expression. Doctor.' Sarah frowned. Doctor. `And what be tter time than the fifteenth century? The time between the dark ages of supersti tion and the dawn of Reason.6 The Secret of the Temple `Spirit from the heavens? I thought you were a man of science. have you?' She popped a grape in her mouth. `Is there a way I can get to the temple wi thout being seen?' . The Doctor.' interposed Sarah.?' `That could be the plan.' `Those ruins are a focal point for enormous forces.' He moved towards the door. `Giuliano... `You mean if they can gain control of Earth now. He was now a lone with the Doctor and Sarah having dispatched Marco to keep unwelcome visitor s at bay.' The D octor turned excitedly to the young Prince.' exclaimed the Doctor. suddenly stopped and smiled. `It's rather hard to explain the concept o f Helix energy-.. that temple must be destr oyed!' `But only ruins stand there now.or super-thermal ionisation--in a medieval vocabula ry.. `But you haven't explained why these spiri ts are appearing in romantic old fifteenth-century Italy.
crossed a series of s mall cobbled courtyards. There was no sign of search parties and they made rapid progress. `If I'd known we were coming I'd have practised my épée. `He re! ` He threw one to the Doctor who caught it expertly. but Giuliano did not pause. led them quickly away.' `No.' The Prince shook his head. After about twenty minutes the track grew steep and rocky then suddenly dropped down beside a small stream. Moments later the three of them emerged from a rear door of the palace. It was nearly dawn. A slight dew lay on the grass dampening their clothes as t hey brushed through. looked at Sarah. He opened the door warily and. `I'l l show you myself. It's better if I go alone. The young Prince led them down a maze of hidden pathways un til the palace was left far behind.' The Doctor hesitated. The gardens lacked any reliable landmarks and various paths and grottoes were deceptively similar. `We'll take the back staircase . Sarah grinned. They could not risk being caught again. and executed a series o f clever flourishes. but no further .' he said. At one point the Doctor thought they passed the secret ent rance he had discovered earlier.Guiliano nodded.' Giuliano crossed to a large wooden chest and took out a couple of swords. `As far as the temple. Giuliano guide d them . `It's too dangerous.' explained Giuliano. `All right. and disappeared into the welcoming cover of the gardens . its side covered with bushes and thick overhanging trees. satisfied that none of Fed erico's guards were lurking in the shadows. On the far side a woody bluff rose up a hundred feet or so. impressed by the Doctor's conviction and sense of urgency.' he ex claimed with a twinkle in his eye.
He pulled back one of t he bushes to reveal a hidden entrance running into the hillside. ancient broken pillars of Gre ek or Roman design. This was a matter for the Doctor. The y're with the Duke Giuliano at the ruined temple. This was one of those occasions.' said Giuliano. Th e Doctor gripped his sword firmly and without a further word disappeared into th e dark tunnel. they've been seen. H e waited a few moments until satisfied they were not going to leave. He was dressed in the scarlet and yellow livery of Federico's bodyguard. then slippe d away furtively through the trees in the direction of the palace. Sca ttered about the foot were large lumps of masonry. Federico was prowling his chamber like a fretful insomniac when there was a perfunctory knock at the door and the captain burst in. `Sire. then turned and addressed the other two. breathless. The Doctor peer ed into the forbidding gloom. `The Duke is with them? Are you certain?' . covered with thi ck moss and trailing vines. and up to the face of the rocky mount. They had been there for centuries probably. She had come to recognis e times when it was best not to interfere--when the Doctor seemed guided by inne r forces not fully understandable to humans.on stepping stones across the stream.' Federico's tired eyes opened wide with surprise. `From thi s point on I must go alone. From a hidden cache on the other side of the stream a helmeted fi gure watched quietly as Sarah and Giuliano retreated to the cover of a ruined co lumn. `This is it.' Giuliano was about to protest but Sarah held his ar m and shook her head.
There was no torchlight here. That meant there must be a large opening ahead.. yes. Our hands will be guiltless. The outlines of a devious stratagem began to formula te in his head. unlike the other part s of the catacombs and in ten minutes he had travelled no further than a hundred yards. A s ource of light lay somewhere in front. `Excellent..' He hugged himself with delight at the prosp ect.' he whispered at last... `A sacrifice. relishing the scenario in his mind's eye.' ` Get your men quickly!' commanded Federico and he snapped his fingers for a valet to bring his cloak.' Federico ceased his prowling and an evil smile flickered across his saturnine features. A faint draught brushed his face.' continue d the Count. Abruptly the tunnel grew wider and turnin g a corner the Doctor found himself staring into the sacrificial chamber. `It will appear like a sacrifice. the evil pagans who worship Demnos. As he did so the walls of the tunnel became more distinct. `The ruined temple. `A human sacrifice to the gods. unsure of his master's meaning.. He . `Otherwise the men would have seized them at once . After a while he began to notice a change in the air around him. `A chance to solve all my problems in one blow..' The Doctor felt his way carefull y along the darkened tunnel. you say?' `In that direction. Admiration and awe dawned on the captain's face as he grasped the drift of Federico's plan. excellent.' The captain nervously fingered the scar on his ch eek. `I will lead them myself.The captain nodded vehemently. He qu ickened his pace.' The Count weighed this information carefully.
the noise occurred again--much louder thi s time. exactly facing the exit from which he had made his escape earlier with Sarah. For several seconds he remained still as a statue. inw ardly coiled like a taut spring ready for action. It seemed to b e rushing and shrieking in diminishing circles above his head. But there was no further sound . The Doctor picked his way stealthily across the rock-strewn flo or and approached the altar. He continued towards the altar . Then another. He scanned the chamber carefully for any activity. save for the ever-flickering torches in their metal soc kets on the walls. different noise assa iled his ears. as he reached the lowest step. It was empty. In .realised he had come out on the far side. Then. The torchlight threw curious danc ing shadows on the walls. Simultaneously the c hamber was illuminated by an eerie glow which burned the Doctor's eyes. grotesque shapes which appeared and disappeared like p hantoms. He turned and surveyed the cavern once more. but as he ran towards the tunnel exi t a large wall materialised in front of him with a deafening crash. He was trapped. It sounded like stone walls shifting and crumbling. It was the high-pitched wail of Mandragora Energy. He was f illed with an unaccountable urge to escape. otherwise the chamber was empty of life. As he did so a sudden cracking noise rang out behin d him. Silence. Blindly he s tumbled towards the other side of the cavern and a second wall blocked his path. In the centre of the ruined cavern stood the sacrificial alta r grey and bare. He froze. The ghostly Temple of Demnos had sprung up before his very eyes! Panic-stricken he turned this way and that seeking escape but all around him thick stone walls seemed to be hemming him in.
Sarah felt nervous and anxious but tried not to show it. `I don't think that idea will ever catch on. she also realised she found him very attractive. swords at the ready. Sarah followed his gaze. It's. As Giuliano spoke in his soft firm voice. `Other scientists are coming to the same conclusion--that the Earth cannot possibly be flat because. `You see. She was impressed by the young Duke's quiet confidence and did not wish to reveal how desperate she t hought their situation really was. Sarah smiled... On all sides the bushes were par ting to reveal Federico's soldiers advancing on them. She listene d earnestly as he explained about his studies.' he said solemnly. I have a theory that th e world is really a sphere. `Quic k. At the same time a distant booming laughter rolled around t he cavernous temple. Yo u see it's really obvious when you think about it. The Doctor felt he was spinning out of control in a vertiginous whirlpool of sound. As she raced for the hid den entrance Giulano leapt over the broken pillar and positioned himself with hi s back to an over- . the Doctor! ` cried Giuliano and gave Sarah a shove. his face contorted with indescribable pain. he felt it penetrate his skull.. as if in mockery at his helpless agony. Outside the entranc e to the catacombs Giuliano and Sarah sat waiting on one of the upturned columns .' He broke off suddenl y.an explosion of sound. He sank to his knees. His brain was pierced by an agonising noise which grew louder and louder... The fact that five hundred years o f history lay between them and not just a few feet of grass only heightened the peculiar fascination the young Prince was beginning to exert on her.' `Why not?' exclaimed Giuliano. `Nothing.. ' Sarah suddenly grabbed his arm. and drew his sword. The shrill note seemed to plumb the very depths of his being. `What was that?' she whispered.
. She ran forward. a voice rang out from across the stream. The sudden blackness was so unexpected she stopped in her tracks for several seconds.hanging rock. tripping over the path. But more hands pinioned her arms and leg s with a vice-like grip. ' Sarah's blood ran cold as she recognised the macabre tones of the High Priest. `Kill him!' Giuliano just caught sight of his uncle's menacing shape. Then. Sarah reached the entrance to th e catacombs and dived in. she stumbled on through the empty darkness. `Doctor!' A hand seized her round the throat. little one. At the same moment. She scream ed with fright and started to struggle. moaning and panting with exertion. `Demnos will not be cheated of his pleasure this time. calling the Doctor's name as loud as she c ould. then the soldie rs were upon him in a flurry of clashing steel. Then a ghostly voice inches from her ear whispered in t he blackness. `Doctor! Doctor!' The sound ec hoed dully along the winding tunnel as she blundered along. All at once something moved in the gloom ahead.
Hazily he peered about him. A solitary ston e altar. His muscles were ri gid with tension. It sounded familiar yet he co uld not formulate its meaning.7 The Spell of Evil The Doctor stirred. with one flick of its little finger. His own name. all will-power. Flickering torchlight on looming craggy walls. The cries had ceased. He li fted his head and waves of nausea immediately flooded his nervous system. He hurriedly snatched up th e sword and scrambled towards the exit. With a sudden surge his brain clicke d into gear and he remembered. . He fel t drained of all energy. how weak and puny he really was. a distant desperate cry. Shielded at his back by the rockface. consciousness seeped back into his body. his attackers lacked the will to press home their advantage. fought the spinning vertigo which still clutched him in its gras p. Giulia no was containing their challenge. But because he was still the Prince. On the ground nearby a bare sword. He heard it again. Someone was calling for him. As he stood there swaying unsteadily from side to side a faint cry penetrated the pounding in his skull. the cavern walls floated d runkenly before his eyes. It was as if Mandragora had shown him. his face grey like the cold stone floor on which he lay. He clamber ed to his feet. A thousand sledge hammers crashed inside his head. and t his time he recognised it. Outside the catacombs Giuliano was fight ing for his life.
One. their attackers milling ro und them like wolves. `Death to Giuliano! Now!-.' he cried. he planted a foot firmly on the . `On. The diversion enabled the young Pri nce to gain the Doctor's side. Suddenly Giuliano dropped his sword and fell with a cry of pain. `You can't count. Then. Federico gave a yell of triumph. the two of them retreated through the ruins. too!' commanded Federico. Uncle. `Take the sorcerer.around the back of the Doctor and raised his sword for the kill. In one movement the Doctor did a neat side-step. a large vicious-lo oking fellow. With lightning speed and acc uracy he dispatched the two leading assailants. Surprised by this unexpected and v igorous assault Federico's men momentarily scattered. sword in hand. `A gold piece to the first that splits him!' Spurred on by t heir master's threats the soldiers renewed their attack. parrying the thrusts of a third. He had received a savage jab to the right shoulder. you craven-gutted curs. disarmed the soldier with a blow to the wrist. Blades f lashing. `You need an army to do your work!' He felled a guard wit h an expert thrust. and sent h im sprawling into the group around Giuliano. he is but one man!' Suddenly the soldiers o n Giuliano's right flank began to fall back as a second swordsman engaged them f rom the rear. Count!' exclaimed a familar voice and the tall f igure of the Doctor. `Thanks--this way! ` shouted the Doctor.`So. From across the stream Federico hurled orders and abuse at h is men. `Behind you. worked his way. appeared.Now!' But the Doctor stood his ground ove r the wounded Prince and met the onslaught head on. Doctor! ` warned Giuliano.
' he announced calmly as his attackers picked themselves up in disarray. his face dark as thunder. The guards tumbled into the stream kn ocking into each other in the confusion. deadly rush. As he watched the black throng swarmed over his guards sending them stagger ing and reeling in every direction. Although the brethren were armed with no more than wooden staves and knives their numbers overwhelmed the armed soldiers who began to retreat in confusion. `The brethren!' howled Federico in dis may. he had lit tle time to ponder their lucky escape. Still. As he stoo d back panting from his exertion a sudden horde of black-hooded figures poured o ut of the hillside like ants from a nest. `To me! To me! Back to the palace!' Federico rallied his men. In the mêlée the Doctor managed to drag Giuliano to his feet and together the y slipped away unseen to the catacomb entrance. bu t the darkness and the haste of the brethren saved them from discovery. In the momentary pause the Doctor g athered his strength for what was going to be the final. cursing and hitting them as they emerged soaked and bedraggled from the water. The Doctor just had time to press him self and Giuliano into a crevice in the wall before a dozen brethren rushed past . `I assure you this is hurting you more than me. .the man's breast-plate and sent him hurtling down at the feet of the advancing w ave. The Doctor felt their rough woollen cloaks brush his face as they swept by. So swift and unexpected was the attack that Federico's men had no time to regroup. Why the brethren had chosen to a id them in their struggle against Federico puzzled the Doctor. As they entered the mouth of the tunnel t hey heard the sound of running feet ahead. On the far bank the scar-faced captain waited.
`You'd better let me look at that arm. `You'v e not spent all your time in books. Expertly the Doctor began to hind up the cut using the torn shirt. tried to hide his pain. Doctor. and nothin g important had been severed.' said the Doctor gently. He ripped off the blood-soaked shirt sleeve and insp ected the wound as best he could in the dim light.' he said gratefully.' The Doctor concentrated on binding the wound. Giuliano's face. pale and drawn. Luckily it was a flesh wound. The point of the sword had pe netrated just below the shoulder-blade. `I owe you my l ife. The wound certainly felt easier. He had overlooked the e xtent of Giuliano's injury. `He was kind enough to hand o ut a few points.' Giuliano winced as the tourniquet was pulled taut. `What happened to Sarah?' `She came down here for you.' The Prince st ared hard into the gloom. Keep still. He helped Giuliano out of the crevic e. There we are.`That was fortunate!' whispered the Doctor. The Mandragora Helix is there all ri ght. `Finest swordsman I ever saw was a captain--this should staunch the bleeding--in Cleopatra's bodyguard. . It's up to some nasty tricks. Come on. Doctor. `She must still be wandering about the catacombs.' He stepped hack and admired hi s handiwork.' He wound the material tightly and started to knot it. Giuliano looked puzzled by the strang e reference but nodded. `Florence Nightingale would be very pleased with that little lash u p.' He started to move off but stopped as Giuliano let out a moan and sank to the ground. Doctor?' `Yes. `You mean you have not seen her?' The Doctor shook his head. `Did you get to the temple.' He smiled encouragingly at the Prince.
The tunnel had reached a dead end. Sarah eyed this awesome apparition in fear and bewilderment. The High Pr iest pressed his right hand against one of the stones and the wall fell mysterio usly away before them to reveal a large ante-chamber beyond. a flarin g brand held high above his head. I must find out what's happened to Sarah.' The Doctor lifted him to his feet and together they set off slowly through the chilly darkness. Abruptly the H igh Priest stopped. The nose was flat and cruel. expecting her. stood a tall and sinister figure. Sarah was prodded i n and she heard the stone wall grind shut behind them. the eyes blank slits shadowing the real eyes behind. the cheeks furrowed w ith deep lines of torment. The Hi gh Priest led Sarah and her guards along a maze of rock strewn tunnels. Even though she had been drugged. a blank wall. There was something so inexpressibly evil about those faces. she knew instantly that this was the masked figure who had officiated at the sacrificial ceremony. Apart from the High Priest her capt ors were once again masked. maniacs. She had been lucky to escape thei r clutches once. She kne w in her bones there would be no question of reasoning with these people. They would make certain it did not happen again. . his head encased in a gruesom e mask carved from pure gold.`Come on then. Here and there trickles of water ran down the walls to form rivulets beneath their feet and several times Sarah caught sight o f giant bats hanging upside down in huddles. impervious to sympathy. They w ere fanatics. Facing her as she entered . something non-human--it made her blood run cold. Her heart skipped a beat. His body was cloaked in rich purple robes surmounted by a peaked hood in the sam e colour. their grotesque features leering at her like ghouls from hell as they continued their journey.
Through the open cas ement a loud fanfare sounded from the direction of the city gates. the great blade of our god thirsts for blood.' `Pati ence.' His commanding tones silenced his acolyte who lowered his head in obeisance. A gag was forced into her mouth and thick ropes were produced from a cell in the corner to bind h er wrists and arms.' `Then bind her well so that she may not struggle or cry out--and bring her to m y chamber.' replied the masked figure. `This one assists the foreign sorcerer. Then the High Priest touched a secret mechanism in the wall. `The Duke of Milan is arriving.' . The Mighty Demnos delivere d his victim to us. That I promise.The High Priest pushed Sarah forward.' Before she could protest Sarah was roughly seized. Sweating and breathless.. `Before the night ends. priest. `It is an omen. She ma y yet assist him to his death before her hour of glory. `We of the brethren bow to your command. subterranean world of th e brethren.' The High Priest seemed taken aback. His face wore a disgruntled frown as a white-hair ed retainer dabbed his brow with a large silk handkerchief. `But Master. She is the chosen sacrifice. there will be blood in plenty. Master.. Count Federico sat sprawled in a red velvet armchair in his palace rooms. and once more she was bundled out into the forbidding.' The masked figure stepped up t o Sarah and examined her closely. At the same t ime there was a knock at the door and the scar-faced captain strode in looking a nxious. sire.
`Sire. not flinching. `With so many v isitors of rank lodged in San Martino. `B ut the deed must be stealthy. Federico crossed to the window and stared angrily across the roofto ps.' he ventured after a moment. `What's to be done. `Do I ne ed your pig-brained counsel?' He struck the captain a fierce blow across the che ek. Before night comes.' `That fat clown of a chancellor must meet them.' thundered Federic o.' `Listen. I must see Giuliano's liver fed to the dogs by sunrise! ` His e yes glinted evilly as he spat the words in the captain's face. will be here within the hour. Rossini remained perfectly still. `Say I have been stricken with an ague. Giuliano is a traitor! The prince of a Christian s tate mixing with the followers of Demnos.. Hurry! You oaf !' The servant s cuttled out.' He turned and glared at the captain. Rossini. He has no t returned to the palace.' `Then we must search the city. `I've gone too far to stop now. `I have a score of men searching for the Prince. `I have him here! T he Holy Father himself will kiss my hand for cleansing the state of San . `Get this muck out of here!' h e snapped at the servant. `Oh no.. `And that fox-faced old blowhard. `Bring me clean linen. sire. sire? They must be greeted.' `Peasant!' exploded Federico.Federico scowled at this unwelcome piece of news. He had experienced his master's wrath before.' Federico thrust his face inches from Rossini's. Rossini. Taking part in their filthy black rite s. the Doge. The captain shuffled his feet. Hi s advance riders are carousing in the taverns even now. you and I have work to do!' He bore down on the captain jabbing the man's breastplate to emphasise the point. You and I are witness of this!' His voice reached a crescendo. He's skulking in some stinking hovel. I have him now!' He clenched the palm of his hand in satisfaction.
They seemed to be posted at all the entrances to the sacrificial chamber and the Doctor was obliged to pursue a circuitous route which grew more and more confusing at each intersection. but that could just have been the effects of tiredness. Wherever she was and whatever had befallen her it was his responsibility and on ly he was capable of doing anything about it. half dragged along an endless labyrinth of dark stone corridors. She was still bound and gagged. heavy with a cloying sickly smell.' He touched his knuckles to his lips and leered malevolently at Rossini out of the corner of one eye. and utterly exhausted she at last fell into a semiconscious haze. He had never b een in such a maze--a rabbit warren of fetid. He realised he must be tired. closer a tmosphere. Every so often they were forced to stop and hide as members of the brethren flitted hack and forth like shadows. Cold . having gone without sleep for several days now. The thought of finding Sarah was growing more and more remote and yet the Doctor knew he must keep on searching. At one point she thought the ground began to slope upwards. Then she must have lost consciousn ess because when she came round she was lying on a rough pallet in the corner of a room. He felt ba ffled. She remembered climbing a flight of steps. For what seemed an eternity Sarah was ha lf pushed. Somewhere. He strengthened his grip on the wo unded Prince and lengthened his stride. and being led into a warmer. foulsmelling corridors. somehow they had taken a wrong turning. bruised. . her body numbed by the tightness of her bonds. The Doctor and Giuliano threaded their way slowly through the dark twisting tunnels.Martino. impotent--a prisoner in some kind of hell.
' Hieronymous raised his arms h eavenwards in a ritual gesture. adde d water and sniffed the result carefully. Master?' The speaker was the High Priest. Apparently satisfied.' Hieronymous ceased stirring his concoction and fixed the High Priest with a curious piercing stare. `His life has y et some value. The great god's dwelling-place must not be defiled by unbelievers in the last few hours. He ladled a measure from the pot. Brothers! You have seen the sign of Demn os. I fear the Count wi ll now bring all his soldiers to bear against us.' incanted the Priest in reply. nor any other mortal must anticipate the mighty Demnos. Hieronymous returned to his brew. Not Count Federico.' The High Priest nodded obediently. `The miracle as w ritten in the prophecies. `But he is no more in the eye of Demnos than any other unbeliever. `Even so. he poured the mi xture into a glass and set it down gently on the table. . `Faith.' he replied quietly. He addressed Hieronymous in a low voice at the far end of the astrologer's chamber. `Then let the word be s pread through the city--guard the sacred temple.A thick woollen curtain divided where she was lying from the rest of the room.' His dark eyes burned in their sockets with manic fervour. The old soothsayer had removed his cloak and m ask and was now busy adding herbs and powders to a bubbling pot. `Giuliano's appointment with death i s already written. but could not make out what they were saying. Now go! Hurry!' He poi nted commandingly to the door. `Why did you call on our brethren to save the young Prince. The High Priest bowed low and left without furthe r word. S he could hear voices muttering beyond it.
He placed it to her lips. The room grew mis ty and swayed around her. Sarah felt the fumes from the potion rising in her nostrils. It made her cough violently and struggle for breath. She had never seen this bearded oddly clothed figure before and yet there was something familiar about him. crossing to the alcove. the ol d fraud himself. Immediately a dizzy intoxicating sen sation spread through her body. `Do not resist. he snatched back the woollen curtain and stood gaz ing at the bound and gagged form on the pallet. Holding her head he began to force the mixture down her throat. her head grew thick and muzzy. Now she could glimpse the rest of the room it certainly resembl ed a den of astromancy and magic. The stranger had crossed to a table and now returned holding a glass full of a brightly coloured liquid. soothing and not unfamiliar. It began to . Weakened by her ordeal Sarah could not preven t herself from swallowing one or two drops. Sarah stre tched her neck and arms with grateful relief. She was free to move but weak enou gh to fall.' whispered the le ering stranger. pungent like a heady spice. a crystal pendant. `The aroma is sweet.Then. Then he untied the ropes around her wrists. His grip was gentle but insistent. The figure knelt beside her and gently release d the gag from her mouth. Sarah viewed his abrupt appearan ce with a mixture of alarm and curiosity. m y child. Then her attention was caught by something bright and shiny a few inches from her face.' His voice was silky. She wonder ed whether it might be the infamous Hieronymous the Doctor had mentioned.
The crystal spun faster and faster. `The Doctor is a sorcerer. A preposterous thought had formed in her head. The crystal suddenly disappeared and instead she felt her hand caressed by a cold metal object.' commanded the voice.' she heard herself say. `Now child--whom do you serve?' It sounded warm and friendly as if Sarah had known it all her life.' Sarah nodded. something which was blindingly obvious.' Sarah gasped as she said the words.' . somethin g she had known all along. Ther efore the Doctor was evil. She felt a surge of trust and affection t owards its soft mellifluous tones. `All this you will forget. a mesmerising ball of light burning its image into Sarah's brain. `And th e Doctor?' Sarah paused.' `And?. `The Doctor is evil. All but your purpose. His strange manner. `And must be destroyed. `I serve you. The Doctor was its enemy. his alien powers. What a fool s he had been not to see it before.. Somewhere in the distance she cou ld hear the voice.' `And?' Sarah struggled for i nspiration. `When you stand close. and the Doctor suspects nothing. `One scratch will be sufficient. blotting out all other sensations except that sedu ctive insinuating voice. his magi cal possessions. This friendly smiling voice was good. long and pointed.swing slowly and rhythmically before her eyes.' The dark face smiled from behind the spinning crystal. you will strike him down..
gazing deeply into her eyes one more time. Her missi on. `Now you must be returned to the Doct or's side.Through blurred vision Sarah looked at her hand. to kill the Doctor! . Sarah nodded meekly and descended the stair-case. he commanded her to go.' He led Sarah to a concealed flight of steps behind a curtain. Then. How glad he will be to see his young companion.' The stranger took the bodkin and pinned it gently onto the front of Sarah's dress like a brooch. And when I command yo u must kill him. `The hand of a friend is a su btle but certain weapon. In it lay a gleaming steel bodk in about four inches long with an ornamental head. Hypnoti sed and spell-bound.
8 Torture! `Well?' The challenge, delivered with rasping menace, hung in the air like an ex ecutioner's blade above Rossini's head. The captain stared miserably at the patt erned floor of Federico's chamber. `Nothing, sire.' He blurted the words out fea rfully. Federico's eyes narrowed and his face swelled with fury. `You inept clod ! What were my orders?' `We have searched everywhere.' Federico rose from his ch air and advanced on the captain, his riding crop raised threateningly. `Dunghead !' He brought the crop across the captain's cheek, leaving a vicious red weal wh ere it struck. The captain flinched but stood his ground. `Fail me, Rossini, and I'll swear you'll breakfast on burning coals! I want the Duke's head here--toni ght!' He cracked the whip across a table sending objects flying in all direction s. `I want to spit in his sightless eyeballs!' The captain eyed the whip and mea sured his words carefully. `Sire, we can only think he has taken to the catacomb s.' `The catacombs!' `A hundred men might search those galleries for a month, si re, and still find nothing. They say there are places where the bat droppings ar e twice the height of a man.' `They say, they say!' the Count hissed contemptuou sly. `The truth of it, Rossini, is you've no stomach for the task.' `If it is yo ur wish, my lord. I'll take the entire guard and begin the search this very nigh t.'
Federico grunted and paced the floor thoughtfully. `No... no, it's true. If he's gone into that warren he'll be harder to find than a louse in a beggar's rags.. .' He paused. `But sometime he'll have to come out again--or die like a sewer ra t.' He wagged a finger knowingly at Rossini. The captain permitted himself a smi le. `And when he does we will be ready for him.' `Of course you will, numskull! But more than that.' Federico chuckled malevolently. `We are going to prove that the Duke Giuliano has been a secret devotee of the cult of Demnos!' The young P rince was still breathing uneasily and the pain had returned. The Doctor paused for a moment to give him respite. As they rested in the un-healthy darkness they could hear the bats squeaking and dodging about their heads. `Doctor, there is a stench of evil in these catacombs,' gasped Giuliano. The Doctor sounded surpri sed. `Don't tell me you're afraid?' `Of course not.' The Prince's voice was clea r and firm. `Come on then!' The Doctor started to lift Giuliano to his feet. As he did so there was a sudden grinding noise and part of the stonework behind the m began to move. `Doctor! ` whispered Giuliano. Slowly a large mass of rock swun g aside to reveal a secret entrance. The Doctor guessed he must have triggered t he mechanism while levering Giuliano to his feet. He grinned. `The ancients who built this place knew a thing or two.' He stepped through the secret opening. Gi uliano did likewise. Immediately the massive rock swung to behind them. Ahead la y a curving corridor lit at intervals by burning torches set into the walls. The Doctor suddenly realised it was the door through which he had first followed th e masked figure; only this time they were
passing through it in the opposite direction. In that case they were heading tow ards the palace! Suddenly there was a sound, like a low moan. `Was that you, Giu liano?' `No.' The Doctor drew his sword and advanced carefully into the shadows. Twenty paces on there was a bend in the tunnel and the torchlight seemed bright er. The Doctor turned the corner and let out a gasp of surprise. There lying lim ply against the stonework was the prostrate form of Sarah Jane. `Sarah!' The Doc tor darted forward and knelt over her. Behind him Giuliano scrambled to his feet and ran to join him. `Is she all right?' `I think so.' The Doctor gently shook her shoulder, `Sarah... Sarah.' Slowly her eyes opened and looked dazedly around . `Where... where am I?' She tried to sit up. The Doc-tor put his arm round her comfortingly. `Her eyes are strange,' remarked Giuliano. The Doctor nodded. `Wha t happened, Sarah?' `The brothers... two of them... I... I can't remember much.' Giuliano frowned. `Why would they leave her here?' `Perhaps they were planning to come back for her,' speculated the Doctor. He looked around. `This passage ru ns under the palace.' `How do you know?' Giuliano sounded surprised. `The first time I saw him the leader of the cult, the masked figure, was coming this way. H e probably uses it regularly.' The Doctor's clear blue eyes fixed the young Prin ce with a penetrating stare. `I don't think the Mandragora Intelligences hijacke d the TARDIS and sent us to this point of space and time without
`Thanks.reason. Sarah.' `What?' `Latin.' explai ned Giuliano. `Doctor. She seemed to have suddenly re-covered.' Giuliano realised the Docto r was referring to the brethren and their leader and the thought of that superst itious band possessing genuine powers filled him with foreboding.' He le d them off down the corridor and his face betrayed a sign of anger. `Are you fit to move?' asked the Doctor. His master and the two strange visitors had been missing for hours and he was beginning to grow anxious. For years he had nursed a growing fea r of the Count's evil ambitions. Marco waited anxiously in Giuliano's room toying with the telescope on the table.' Sarah's pert voice cut through the air. `I think so. More than once he had had to interpose on Giuli ano's behalf when . `Don't worry about it. Solvitur ambulando. give me a hand. I don't even speak Italian. Doctor. He had seen several troops of Federico' s guards leave and then return apparently from some skirmish outside the city.' said Sarah. I'll try to explain later.' `Oh. `Come on then. He y! Never mind Latin. There had bee n unusual activity too about the palace. Luckily no one had enquired too closely into the Prince's whereab outs but sooner or later he would have to think of an explanation. There is already somebody here sensitive to its influence. how is it I can underst and Giuliano? I've never thought of that before?' The Doctor turned and gave her a curious look. Probably ther e has been some kind of tenuous link for centuries. M arco inwardly recoiled at Federico's name.' He helped her gently to her feet. `The question is solved by walking.
Marco realised too late that these were not Giul iano's men but Federico's. I remember my father once spoke of a secret pas sage--' The Doctor nodded. . with the old man gone. He unbolted the door. Do you think you can find it?' Giuliano a dvanced cautiously into the shadows ahead. a thunderous knocking on the door brought him to his senses . The Doctor paused and beckoned to Giuliano. He drew his sword to put up a fight but was quickly o ver-powered and dragged kicking out of the room. N ow. `Excellent. Immediately. `Yes. Federico's wolfish craving for the throne seemed to k now no bounds. Thank goodness some of the guards were still loy al to the Prince. but when the Doctor and S arah got nearer they could see it was a narrow flight of steps winding upwards i n a spiral.' Marco hurriedly crossed to the doo r as the knocking was repeated. Giuliano's face broke into a grin . a squad of pikemen rushed i nto the room headed by Rossini.' he whispered. There was also a faint musty smell as if casks of wine had once been stored nearby. Here it is. As he gazed out of the window. `Open! Open! In the name of Duke Giuliano. He p ointed to what looked like a small alcove in the wall. his mind ful l of these thoughts. But whatever events the future might bring.Federico's poisonous lies had threatened to turn the old Duke against his son. `Anywhere you know?' The passage had broadened out and here and the re red brickwork showed through the walls. Marco felt strong and proud in his loyalty to the Prince. `We're in the palace dungeons.
But for the moment he must bide his time. son of a poor peasa nt from Bologna should become the chosen vessel of powers beyond the dreams of m en! Not only San Martino and all of the Italian states. but the very world itsel f might be within his grasp. Hieronymous.' . The stars had reveal ed an unhappy conjunction. he would not be doing h is duty to keep such warnings from his Lordship. lis ten carefully to the words of Demnos and not fall foul of the prickly Federico. `Hieronymou s!' The Count stood in the middle of the room bristling with bad temper. He was beco ming annoyed by Federico's continual rudeness and bullying manner. What could he not achieve then? What pleasures.' He'started up the steps.`Right. His musings were rudely curtailed as Federico slammed into the room. `You wi ll forgive me for not rising. Hieronymous was seated in Federico's room. `Only the dead fai l to stand in my presence. and as he sat awaiting the Count his thoughts began to wander. `And quietly now. alone. Your lack of courtesy is easily correcte d. the signs were clearly there. sword in hand. The Count too k a pace forward and unsmilingly drew a dagger from his belt. Count. Even so Hieronymous now had muc h weightier problems on his mind. That he. Hieronymous.' replied the soothsayer coolly. Follow me. wha t powers could be denied him? His lips quivered as scenes of undisguised degener acy passed through his mind's eye.' said the Doctor. The events of the last twenty-four hours had thrown his entire being into a state of feverish tumult. He had request ed an audience and was now waiting for the Count to appear.
`Hieronymous. Hieronymous.' Hieronymous bowed and pulled his beard slyly. spare an old servant! It was only through my love for you. A charlatan.' But Hieronymous continued. That way you may al so keep your head. You are in great danger.' He leant forward and poked Hieronymous in the ribs. astrologer.' `There are intrigues brewing. You must bring all yo ur guards here to defend your noble person. . Plots are being pre pared.' `Go on. `But the numbness has passed I see.. `But I bring y ou warning. `Yo u're a fraud. `S o just remember to keep your humble place.' Federico snorted. should continually dismiss his predictions as frivolous nonsense w as becoming too difficult to stomach. you try my patience.' He sheathed the dagger and sprawled into a high-backed chair. this ruffian. That this oaf. And they are going well. are mine. Go! Get out of my sight!' Hie ronymous's wrinkled face suffused with blood and he swallowed hard in order to c ontrol his anger. `My lord.' Federico pau sed and grinned at the cowering figure of the astrologer. my lord. I am numb with fear for your life. A fake. court astrologer. this mindless brute. We bo th know the truth of it..' Federico rose from the chair and th rust the fortune-teller away from him. `The only plots. `It is written th at a blow will be struck against you--here in this palace.Hieronymous realised he had misread Federico's mood and leapt nimbly to his feet as the dagger moved towards his throat. You ca n no more read the stars than read my chamber-pot. A market-place soothsayer. regal though he might be.
`there are other considerations besides y our uncle and his petty ambitions. Giuliano took in the scene.' He shut the door gently and led th e young Prince to a chair..' He delivered the warni ng with chilling conviction and stalked out of the room leaving Federico puzzled and slightly shaken. `Ther e's nothing you can do on your own Giuliano. `Marco.' `Giu liano.. sire. `I've called a gathering of scholars to celebrate my ac cession to the Dukedom.' `Leonardo da V inci?' . The Doctor restrained him.' `Petty? But they're far from petty.' he w hispered.' Realisa tion dawned on his face. The staircase had brought them out into the pa lace kitchens and from there they had been able to reach the sanctuary of the Pr ince's room unobserved by way of the servants' corridors. `He's my friend. Scholars.`Very well.' interrupted the Doctor firmly. white-faced.' announced the Doctor as he led the way into Giuliano's room. artists. So it is written. men of the new sciences. My uncle will do everything he can to stop our meeting. my dear and loyal companion. `I'd say you've had visitors. The chamber betrayed s igns of a fierce struggle. Giuliano?' `The most learn ed men in all Italy. The Prince's telescope had been hurled to the floor b ut was luckily undamaged.' This news caused the Doctor to frown. He unhitched his sword and laid it though tfully on the table.' he replied coldly. `But before Mars sinks to rest the blow wi ll fall and your life will be forfeit. ready to set off in search of his companion. `My uncle's men must have taken him!' He turned impulsively to the doo r. `Who's coming to this gathering.
He turned to Giuliano. A g reat bubbling howl of pain echoed through the dungeons of the palace then died a way into fitful gasps.' Federico thought for a moment. `Of course. sire. If anything sho uld happen to those men the world would be back in a new dark age!' He crossed t o the door. `Be careful. his eyes gli nting evilly in the dancing shadows. Not like her usua l curious self. `Has he weakened yet?' The captain shook hi s head. `I would prefer no t to rouse the entire palace.' the Count gestured to-wards the cell door.Giuliano nodded. She did not seem particularly interested or impressed. `Scarlatti is enjoying his work. `He's a stubborn ape. I see it now.' warned Giuliano.' `Nonethe less these cries. Besides I'm not going to pass up the opportunity of meeting Leonardo!' He opened the door and slipped out stealthily into the corridor. `I will have a word with him. `The soldiers will be everywhere. `Don't worry. Sometimes the voice of reason is more effective than a . `And his patron the Duke of Milan. The sounds stopped. `I ha ve an idea who the leader of the brethren is.' `Where are you going?' enquired Sarah as if she had suddenly woken up and only heard the last part of their conversation.' He pushed his face close to Rossini. the cell-doo r opened and the scar-faced captain stepped out. He spoke in a low voice.' replied the Doctor. The noise came from behind a heavy metal door which gleam ed with a dull sheen in the burning torchlight.' The Doctor beamed a toothy smile.' The Doctor shot a glance at Sarah. As he turned to close the door Federico slid into view and approached him. `You two stay here. `He is a craftsman.' The captain smiled faintly.
sire?' Federico nodded vigorously.' `Banished. `But I want the old spide r out of the city tonight. S top Hieronymous and there was a chance of stopping the invasion of Earth which t he Doctor felt sure was imminent. every thought.' He took Rossini by the shoulder. Italy and ultimately the world.' His tone grew stern. too subtle to attract Giuliano's attention but sufficient to ale rt the Doctor.' `My lord!' Consternation filled the captain's face.burning iron. `The astrologer. employing the conditioned brethren to dominate and enslave the rest of San Martino. may be moving against me. She was obviously not herself. oblivious to the fact t hat every act. his feet echoing softly on the marbled floors. Hieronymous.' Federico dropped his voice to a whisper. `Don't be alarmed. under some kin d of influence. A subtle and insidious invasion. `He has prophesied my death. Henceforth. the cou rt astrologer. `I have another task for you.' He cast a look up and down the passageway then leant close to Rossini's car. `Throw him out. mankind would evolve. The Doctor had had his suspicions for some time but Sarah's disappearance in the catacombs was the convincing link. and all his rubbish with him. Hieronymous had to be the leader of the brethren--and in league with the forces of Mandragora. `He plucks these lies from the air.' Federico waved a hand airily. It was Sarah who had given him the final clue. every word. There was only one man capable of practising such tricks.' The Doctor hurried stealthily through t he palace corridors. Hieronymous. emanated from the distant Helix: man's apparent freedom would have turned into a .' ` My lord.
the torturer. Marco. his blon d hair matted with sweat. One side border ed a small statue-filled patio.' Feder ico leant into his ear and whispered silkily. The Doctor redoubled his pace. He turne d to face Federico and summoning all his strength gasped a reply. had thrust two irons. Twenty paces behind the Doctor and unknown to him. Marco. his c rooked teeth glinting in the flickering red light. Use it and save yourself pain.tyranny of the worst kind. her right hand clenched tightly round the long.' `I shall not lie against th e Duke.' `No. a pale phantom-like figure tip-toed in his wake. `You may kill me fir st. It was Sarah Jane. Scarlatti's enthusiasm is such that no t all survive his attentions. Alre ady they were growing red hot. `A simple c onfession. He turned a corner and found himself in a long colonnade. There was a brazier at the fa r end of the cell into which Scarlatti. open to the air. his ears even more keenly attuned to danger. He dodged into an alcove and waited. fit to make a man's flesh sizzle.' .' Marco heaved to gain his breath between each word. `You are of noble birth. but we may kill you afterwards. As he flitted cautiously from a rch to arch he heard a sound as if someone was following him. alien life-form. He allowed a few moments to pass but there was no further noi se. a man of intelligence. pointed bodkin.' Federico stood smiling a few feet from Marco. He continued on his way. `Never. the very soul of his existence controlled by another. intent on finding Hieronymous's lair. hung by his arms from an upright wooden-rack. my young friend. her eyes peculiarly dilated staring straight ah ead.
' he s miled.' `One last chance. Slowly Marco raise d his head and deliberately spat into the Count's face. Hieronymous gasped. Then. Scarlatti. As the air cleared Hieronymous gave a sudden start. man ! What is your answer?' Federico bawled the words out. Hieronymous had returned to his room and thrown himself i nto concocting one of his arcane and foul-smelling potions. The noxious fumes ro se billowing from the cauldron causing even Hieronymous to cough and splutter an d he was forced to open first the window..' He motioned an grily to Scarlatti and stormed out of the cell.Federico nodded towards the corner. Marco. `Wha t are you?' ..' There was no reply. `Good evening. turned and grinned. Only numb silence. his shaven head and ox-like arms gleaming with sweat from the heat of the brazier. Hieronymous stirred the cauldro n and threw in a pinch of ground crystals. Standing before him like a magic apparition was the Doctor. In a short while he felt certain the Powers of Mandragora would s ummon him to embark on the next phase of their mission. Confess that Giuliano is a follower of Demnos. `You devils. There was a loud bang and great cloud s of steam filled the room. `You?' His eyes widened in wonder and disbelief. Federico drew back incen sed. `Insolent fool! Now you will truly learn what suffering is. Vexed and embittered from his au dience with the Count. I will reward you well. Marco winc ed. `Com e. then the door in order to allow the ga ses to escape. Federico would be forced to take heed and eat his rancorous words.
' screamed Hieronymous.' He looked up at Hieronymous and grinne d.' Hie ronymous nodded. `Not s ure of yourself yet. Hieronymous.' said the Doctor moving ro und the cauldron.. Less than two paces away Sarah stood poised to plunge a lethal steel needle into the back of his neck. He dropped the mask and swung round. `Ingenious.. `Were you sent from the stars?' `You could say that.. `Keep back ! Keep away from me ! ` The Doctor chuckled.. that I would be joined by anothe r. Give me a proof you are the one. That must b e very worrying for you. `Destroy him! Destr oy him now!' .' The astrologer backed towards the window his arms held in front of his face.' The Doctor reached across to the desk and l ifted up the carved mask of gold. The astrologer was taking no notice and the Doctor realised someone else had entered the room. Pre-diluvian sandstone with a comp lex circuit of base metal fused into it. `They told me. `Y ou defile the sacred image of Demnos. I suppose. I see--the influence comes and goes.`It's time you and I had a serious talk. the voices.
Hieronym ous. `You're really too old for this sort of thing. As he did so Hieronymous lunged across the room. `I am your friend. The Doctor fixed her with a hypnotic stare. her arm still raised ready to strike.' he ordered firmly. Sarah. Sarah. a dagger in his hand. and the needle dropped to the ground. forever!' The Doctor dodged to one side.' said the Doctor quietly. His eyes took in the bodkin.' Hieronymous moved behi nd him. ` You don't want to harm me. `Drop it.' Sarah struggled for a few seconds. deflecting the blow. `Strike him down!' Sarah jumped at the Doctor but as the needle flashed towards him he side-stepped and caught hold of her wrist. Her gaze fell from the Doctor's eyes to her hand. The Doctor smiled gently and releas ed her. her fingers opened s lowly.9 The Invasion Begins `Hello. blinked and her face resumed its normal ex pression. `A poisone d needle?' Sarah hesitated. `Take them! ' . his clear blue ey es drilled into hers like a laser beam. This time the Doctor leant back and neatly kicked the knife out o f the astrologer's hand.' As the knife went spinning across the floor there was a commotion in the c orridor outside and soldiers poured into the room headed by Rossini. Sarah. Hieronymous lunged again. ` The curse of Demnos on you. Drop it . Her face was l ike a crazed mask.
He went down st ruggling. He dared not go in search of them for fear of meet ing up with Federico's men who were bound to be patrolling the palace. `Don't let him get away. `Fools! S top him!' yelled Rossini. The soldiers fell back screaming and choking. In his private chamber Giuliano was in a flurry of indecision. The Prince paced the room for sever al minutes. He strapped on his sword belt. crosse d to the door and slipped cautiously out into the corridor. Most of the torches had been doused but t hrough the open colonnade a strong moonlight cast a pale ethereal glow onto the marbled floor. Sarah ha d inexplicably slipped out while his back was turned and he had been searching f or fresh dressing for his wound. Finally he reached a decision. It was still nightfa ll and the palace lay strangely quiet. In addition. Hiero nymous snatched up the mask. `Doctor!' yelled Sarah and started clawing at one of the guards. As the soldiers advanced on him he threw a ladle of hot liquid from the cauldron into their faces and dashed behind the curtain at the rear of the chamber.' But Hieronymous had gained s ufficient time to elude them in the darkness of the secret passage and after a b rief search the captain had to content himself with his capture of the Doctor an d Sarah.Three of the guards leapt upon the Doctor who was near the door. there was no word from the Doctor and several hours had passed. how as a little boy he had often played alone in these same corri dors dreaming of the day he . For some reason the quiet cool atmosphere made him think back to his childhood. It was pu re good fortune they had not returned to search his chambers again and no doubt before the morning they would think of this.
`Giuliano?' Federico's ugly face lit up and he rose eagerly from his couch to greet Rossini.' `Then it is finished.' Federico n odded fervently. But he will not evade capture for long. `There is nothing now that will stop me. Rossini!' The Count rubbed his hands and began prowling his chamber in a fit of excitement. He padded stealthily down the corridors head ing for Hieronymous's chamber. `There is only Hieronymous. And now that day had come here h e was. a fugitive in his own house. adding to their . He's been taken to the dung eon with the other prisoners. with only the strange and resourceful Doctor as his ally. `The Duke and h is troublemakers will be dead and buried by cockcrow. `Is he dead?' `No. fearing for his life. In the dungeons the Doctor and Sarah hun g side by side on vertical wooden racks.' Rossini bowed obediently. They had been placed in Marco's cell and the heat of the brazier caused the sweat to pour off them. sire. Nothing!' He turned to Rossini. their wrists manacled to the frame abov e their heads. Then swiftly his assailants dragged him out of the corridor and down a flight o f stone steps. A knee dug him savagely in the back and before he could draw his sword a sharp blade was pressed to his throat. Suddenly there was a blur of movement behind a column to his right and two shadowy figures hurled themselves upon him.would be crowned Duke and ruler of San Martino. He felt sure that was where the Doctor had meant to visit. his face ablaze with triumph.
. `But I tried to kill you?' `You only did what you were ordered to do--and wh at I expected.' Sarah looked sad and puzzl ed.. A nd that told me your mind had been taken over by another influence.' His chin fell heavily to his . `See to Marco. his face streaked with tears and dirt. Sarah turned her head with difficulty and whispered faintly to the Doctor. He gasped at the sight of the Docto r and Sarah. Giuliano darted to his companion' s side and cupped his head in his hands. There's nothing at all. It's a Timelord gift that I let you share.' said the Doctor without reproach. spea k against you.' Sarah was a bout to question the Doctor further when the bolt was drawn back with a clank. `I'm trying to remember what happened to me but I can't. Only a faint panting from time to time t old them he was still alive. a nd Giuliano was led in between two soldiers. `But how did you know I'd been drugged?' `Well I've taken you to some strange places and you've never stopped to wonder why you spoke the local language.' urged the Doctor. Opposite them Marco hung limp and motionless. easing hi mself free from the wooden slats which seemed to be eating through his shoulderblades. `Marco? What have they done to you?' Ma rco's eyelids flickered momentarily and his lips trembled.' `Did I?' `Yes. his blond hair matted. `Hieronymous is a resourceful old sly-boots.' `Drug-induced hypnosis.discomfort. `They made me. But tonight you asked how you could understand Italian.' replied the Doctor.
. At the southern end of the city fi les of black hooded figures merged into one large column and surged across the S lopes of Sorrow towards the ruined temple. Hiero nymous. Pity and anger mingled on Giuliano's face as he stared up on his boyhood companion. `They're moving towards the temple!' Through the empty streets h ordes of sinister wraith-like figures glided over the cobblestones like a surgin g tide. leering devilishly at him from the doorway. `All over the city.' gasped Rossini.' Giuliano swung round on his heels to encounter the towering figure of his uncle. `You stinking butche r! ` Giuliano sprang at Federico's throat but the two soldiers wrenched him away and held him tight. `Tha t you. Behind him Rossini entered hastily.. struck his n ephew playfully across the cheek. The Count chuckled and. arms folded an d legs astride. Rossini.. they'r e coming out of every street. `My lord. Inside the sacrificial chamber.' answered a gloating voice from behind. had never seen such a sight. `What have they forced you to say?' he whispered. cloaked in purple and wearing the golden mask.' `What is it?' The captain was pale and breathless. removing his gauntlet. not even Federic o had realised the brethren numbered so many. who had witnessed the spectacle from the upper window in the pa lace. ten minutes earlier.' `What are you gabbling about?' `The brethren.chest with the effort. No one. dear nephew. stood at the foot of the . `and this dog of a s orcerer are in league to revive the blasphemous cult of Demnos..
Slowly and majestically the outline of their forme r temple materialised around them. and kneelin g down. Aft er a few moments Hieronymous climbed onto the top step of the altar. about a foot . green. Miraculously. impossible to look upon directly. As if obeying some unheard command he spread his gloved hands over the altar. Once the brethren were fully assembled a low chanting commenced. fading towards the outer edges into a vivid spectrum of colours. The chanting from the brethren ceased and Hieronymo us cried in a loud voice. grinding stonework echoed abo ve the heads of the brethren. and peacock-blue. By his side stood the High Priest. he remained alive and intact. which gradually rose in volume as they began processing around the central altar. a strange shimmering effect appeared on the walls of the cavern and the sound of creaking.altar as the brethren arrived and took up their positions. When the shape was complete and the noise had ceased Hieronymous rose to his feet and made another gesture. orange. we are ready to receive you into ou rselves. `Great God Demnos. As he did so a brilliant shaft of light bathed him and the altar in a curious ethereal glow.' For a few m oments nothing happened. If we are worthy of your almighty presence. show yourself. kissed the base of the stone. The centre of the col umn of light was an intense iridescent white. then a mighty lightning flash like a shooting star sped down the beam of light and struck the altar where Hieronymous was standing! Ins tantly he turned into a vivid ball of colour as the charge travelled straight th rough him. bringing his arms down to his sides in a wide circling motion. from head to foot. Immediately. Then raising his arms exultantly he called out in an unknown tongue. adorned for the first time in a tall silver mask fashioned like a gargoyle. vermilion.
`Helix Energy. in two minds. It's a power that could destroy everything.above the surface. But the cunning tyrant was determined to enjoy his mom ent of glory. they're in the temple. Immediately a force of energy leapt from the stone to his han ds and his fingers crackled with blue light. Nothing is go ing to stop me now from becoming Duke.' Federico looked from the captain to the Doctor. `Hieronymous? That old fake?' `That old fake. He beckoned to the High Priest who approached from the other side of the altar and raised his hands. It was imperative to convince Federic o of the imminent danger.' continued the Doctor smoothly.' Federico snorted. If Rossini's news was true then there was even le ss time than the Doctor had first thought. `How d o I know sorcerer. Cou nt.' `What?' Federico's checks drained of what li ttle colour they had and he stared uncomprehendingly at Rossini. is the leader of the brethren.' The Doctor retorted angrily. Hieronymous released his grip and the High Priest stepped back to his position. The first recipients of Mandragora's awesome power had re linquished their human selves. It's not Giuliano you have to fear but H ieronymous. for this moment. that you are telling the truth?' . `Count Fede rico. Your enemies are not here in this dungeon. sire. I'm not interested in your political ambitions. `And he's posse ssed of some extraordinary power. The process had begun.' `It's a tr ick. He jerked convulsively as if a powerful electric current had entered his body. `I've waited a long time. Hieronymous to ok hold of them in his and a bolt of energy passed through into the High Priest. sorcerer. I've warned you before.
Their hoo ds were pulled far forward concealing their faces and they quickly mingled in wi th the other brethren as if not wanting to attract attention. Those who had already undergone the ordeal stood silently in the centre of the chamber. Federico sneered. He hesitated a moment then said. And you'll come with me. S arah looked anxiously at Giuliano. They seemed no longer human. There was nothing they could do. my lord. As the altar queue grad ually dwindled a handful of latecomers appeared and tagged on the end. But if you don't stop Hieronymous.`You don't. `I don't have to trust him. Keep these three as hostages. The Doctor w as taking the only course open to him. `Unchain him. to o stiff. Sarah and the still h alf-conscious Marco. like row upon row of carved dummies. `If I don't return within the hour you know what to do.' `Don't trust hi m.' He prodded the Doctor in the ribs. their masked faces trained obediently on their leader. In the temple the brethren were still filing slowly up to the alt ar one by one and receiving the `energy charge' from Hieronymous. `I'll see for myself. now.' The Count looked vi sibly shaken. The tallest of the latecomers whispere d in his neighbour's ear.' remonstrated the captain. They were a good f ifty feet away from the altar when Hieronymous suddenly looked up from his admin istrations and stared in their direction.' .' He indicated Giuliano.' Ro ssini clicked his heels and nodded and the guards began unchaining the Doctor. Their lives once more lay in his hands--a nd Federico's. too still. I promise you there'll be no Dukedom for you or anyone else to rule over after tonight. `Don't go near him.
The `Shape' raised it s arm and pointed a gloved finger at Federico. screaming with fury. T he guards started to obey then stopped in their tracks. He leapt up the altar steps and tore the golden mask from Hiero nymous's face. The effects of Mandragora Energy were more lethal than a laser beam. `Hieronymous!' Federico rushed fo rward. They seemed frozen with fear. no person at all. more powerful t han nuclear fission. Then. just a power source in the shape of a man. And in this temple a multitude were already armed with the same weapon. `Hieronymous! You traitor!' The maske d figure whirled round. no bone. His guards ran to his aid but they too were instantly devoured by a bur st from Hieronymous's outstretched arm. nothing. Federico gave a hideous shriek and exploded into a mass of flames. The gloved finge r levelled at Federico's heart and daggers of blue light spurted from the tip st riking him instantly. It was clear there was nothing beneath the cloak. suddenly throwing back his hood he ran towards the altar and pointed an accusing finger. The Doctor looked on in horrified fascination. The Count cringed in terror. unable to intervene. Earth was doomed.`Do I need your advice?' snarled Federico and motioned his guards to keep a firm grip on the Doctor's arms. transfixed by the devilish staring mask. An inner demon drove him on to seek vengeance on his old astrologer. There was no face behind the ma sk! No flesh. Nothing but a blinding searing light framed by t he edges of the black hood. Instantly he fell back in horror. Had his alien presence ye t been detected by the intelligences of Mandragora? As if in reply . The Doctor turned pale as he gazed at th e charred and smoking pile which an instant before had been Count Federico. Unless he could escape. Federico signalled to his men to seize the astrologer.
the gloved finger of Hieronymous swung sharply round and pointed ominously in th e Doctor's direction. .
and none can overcome us. He closed his eyes and waited. For Demnos is only the servant of Mandragora and Mandragora is the mighty master of all things. `Surround me with the Helix of power.' . So. brothers. bowing his head and m umbling furtively he took his chance and backed away towards the nearest exit. He kne w he could remember the way out. The waiting. th e Empire of Mandragora will encompass the Earth. Now. The masked figure had lowered it s arm and now addressed the enraptured brethren.10 Siege For a moment the Doctor felt his heart stop beating.' Hieronymous lowered his head reveren tially and sank into a kneeling position. The Doctor stood in a daze of relief a s the brothers nearest to him jostled and pressed their way towards the base of the altar. Everyone seemed preoccupied.' The Doctor loo ked cautiously about him. `Let the power flood into you. There they formed a circle and began a low chant while Hieronymous co ntinued to address them with messianic fervour. Tonigh t we shall witness the last prophesy. brothers. L uckily it was the one through which Federico's men had gained admittance. `All has happened as was foretol d down the centuries. Time stood still and it see med to him as if the sum total of his existence lay naked and defenceless before that threatening accusing finger. the sacrifices.' The voice of Hieronymous echoed exultantly round th e cavernous chamber. `So shall peri sh all our earthly enemies. the prayers. at last. The Doctor opened one eye.
The Doctor raised an e yebrow. Marco had now rega ined consciousness but was still in a bad way. `Stay. `Neither he nor the sorcerer nor any of their party have returned f rom the temple. The scar-faced captain nodded and turned to his captives. Count Federico ordered that the se traitors be executed at the end of an hour.' The guard nearest Giuliano began to undo his manacles. but puzzling.' `Only if he didn't return. `It is time. Hieronymous raised his voice. interested. The Doctor had been gone over an hour when a fifth guard appeared in the doorway and bowed at Rossini. but lay a hand on your Pri nce and you will be the traitor. Mandragora shall swallow the moon. In the dungeons Sarah. Giuliano and Mar co hung manacled to their racks just as Federico had ordered.' . Even so it was enough to alarm Sarah who was not accustomed to hanging ar ound in medieval torture chambers. Swiftly and stealthily he left the sacrificial chamber an d retraced his steps towards the palace. `Rossini. `You mean it's an hour already? Doe sn't time fly when you're having fun. yes. Battle plans? Of a sort.' replied the captain flatly. you call us traitors. `As it is written. Rossini stood staring at him with out sympathy flanked by four armed guards. more out of idle curiosity than from any desire to use them. From time to time he prodded the redhot irons in the brazier.The Doctor reached the shadows. fellow.' prot ested Sarah.' Rossini motioned to his guards.' commanded the Prince. `Take the m down. Then shall we strike!' The masked figure lea pt to his feet and made a sweeping gesture with his fist. Now was not the time to work them out.
`What have you done to the Count. `Are we to die without even a priest?' `Or a hearty breakfast?' chipped in Sarah. `In the temple ruins.' The guards bowed and hurriedly released th e prisoners from their wooden racks.' said a voice from the door. `There's y our lawful ruler. `F ederico is dead.' Rossini began to tremble and the weal-mark on his cheek grew p urple. uncertain what to do.The guard hesitated. Giuliano stoo d proud and erect facing his captors. the brother's cowl pushed back from his face.' replied Rossini gruffly. . He pointed to the Doctor angrily. stunned by the news of Federico's death. `I follow the Count. `Infamous filth!' groaned Marco as he stagg ered to keep upright.' `How did he die?' `Let's just say Hieronymous gave h im a blank look. you don't have any authority now. `You follow a tyrant and a murderer! ` gasped Marco from his pallet. `Will a brother do?' They all spun round to see the Doctor framed in the doorway beaming. sorcerer?' he snarled. `Call yourselves soldiers!' His hands freed. `No priest available. ` It is Giuliano to whom you owe allegiance. `Dead? My uncle is dead?' The Doctor nod ded. `Take them down! The execution block grows dry.' Giuliano turned pale. `Rossini. Rossini was t he first to recover.' `Enough!' cried Rossini.' said the Doctor. `Seize him! ` But the soldiers hung bac k.' He turned to Giuliano. `Seize him!' The guards still did no t move.
Giuliano addressed the bewildered soldiers. `You men. Are you with your Prince?' There was a moment's pause then all five soldiers uncovered their heads and kne lt before the Prince. Rossini, left standing. lowered his eyes then followed sui t. `Take him to the block!' `No, Marco,' replied the Prince restraining his comp anion. He nodded to the soldiers. `Take him away. I'll decide his fate later.' T he newly-converted guards rose and, taking hold of Rossini. marched him out of t he cell. Marco sprang to the Prince's side and clasped him about the neck. `Giul iano, the evil is ended! At last you can rule without fear.' `Wrong, Marco,' int errupted the Doctor. `The evil is only just beginning. Hieronymous and the breth ren still remain.' `Then destroy them, my lord,' urged Marco. `You must take com mand!' Giuliano paused, taking stock. `Is that what you think, Doctor?' `You are the Prince! The soldiers will rally to you. Lead them to this temple, win your inheritance, sire.' The Doctor smiled. `Marco, Marco.' He took him by the should ers and led him gently to a bench. Then, turning to Giuliano he said, `If you go near that temple you go to your death.' Giuliano looked uncertain. `Then what d o you suggest? What would you have me do?' The Doctor glanced at the open doorwa y to make sure no one was listening. `The brethren are still absorbing power. Ge t every man you can, soldiers, joiners, stonemasons, and block all entrances to the palace. Turn it into a fortress,' he looked earnestly into the
Prince's face. `Because when the brethren come here, you're going to need one.' Supporting his companion Giuliano led him out of the cell towards the upper pala ce. Sarah turned to the Doctor. `Are the barricades enough to stop the brethren? ' she asked gently. `Anything to delay them, Sarah. I need time to think. Anyway his power isn't complete yet.' The Doctor unclipped his cloak and threw it asid e. `Come on.' He headed out of the cell. `What do you mean?' called Sarah as she followed him out of the dungeons and up a stone staircase. The Doctor prised op en a thick studded door at the top and poked his head through. He beckoned her o n and the two of them stepped gingerly into the moonlit colonnade running alongs ide the state rooms. `This way,' whispered the Doctor, and then continued to exp lain. `So far the only Helix Energy available in the brethren is what we brought with us.' `Well that's bad enough,' Sarah frowned. `You mean there's more to co me?' The Doctor nodded. `Tomorrow night. When Mandragora swallows the moon.' Sar ah stopped, hands on hips. `Listen. I came here with you remember? You don't hav e to use that fifteenth-century double talk with me. I speaka da pretty good Eng lish.' `I was just repeating what he said,' replied the Doctor and disappeared s martly behind a stone column. Sarah had to run to catch up. `Who?' The Doctor hu rried on, checking carefully at each corridor intersection before hopping across . `Hieronymous. When Mandragora swallows the moon they're going to strike.' Sara h sighed in frustration. `But what does it mean?'
The Doctor did not answer. They had come to a halt outside an imposing door with the royal crest of arms carved in wood and gilt above. Sarah recognised it as t he entrance to Giuliano's chambers. The Doctor pushed the door open and ventured in. The room was empty. Quickly he moved to the window and began dismantling Gi uliano's telescope which still stood at an angle on the table where Marco had le ft it. He squinted through the eyepiece at Sarah. `Just about adequate I suppose .' He adjusted the focus. `Another fifty years and we could have used Galileo's. Come on.' He was at the door and off again before she'd had time to draw breath . `Where are you going now?' protested Sarah, but he had already gone and she kn ew she would have to follow to find out. The Doctor in one of his impulsive mood s was always the same. She pulled a wry face and set off after him. Elsewhere in the palace there was great activity. The main gates leading onto the city squar e had been barricaded and all side entrances to the royal mansion were being sca led off. Giuliano himself was busy commanding the work from the corridor outside the state rooms. As he ordered a group of stonemasons and carpenters to the wes t gate Marco ran up. He had changed into fresh clothes, but still looked weakene d from his ordeal. `Sire, it's begun!' `What?' `The brethren. They are driving p eople from the town.' Giuliano's handsome features darkened at this in-formation . `Are you sure of this?' Marco nodded. `Those who refuse to leave are being des troyed by bolts of fire. They have brought the forces of darkness out of those d evilish catacombs.'
it must be cancelled. my lo rd. All the years he had known him he had proved a wise and loyal co unsellor.The young Prince pushed open the doors leading to the state rooms and led his co mpanion inside.' Giuliano leapt to his feet.' `Simple trickery.' `Some of them the most precious heads in all Europe. sire. If overheard. they are a fanatical rabble. `just the few of us in this palace. we have weapons of our own.' replied Marco.' repli ed Marco calmly. And the King of Naples asked the reason for all the noise. how would he bes t have protected his people? And for the first time realised the awesome burden of . sire.' deliberated Giuliano. And the brothers ar e not an army. `This palace could be held against an army. `Would you explain to your peers that your accession to the throne cannot be celebrated because of a pagan uprising?' `The masque cannot be held. Hicronymous was always a cunning fox. But now they were dealing with powers and events outside their knowled ge. He wondered how his father the old duke would have reacted. `The masque! I had forgotten the day. Marco. `Their personal guards stay close.' Giuliano sank into the hig h backed throne and Marco read the gravity of the situation in his master's blea k expression. I sent back word that it was a prepa ration for the masque.' The young Prince grew flushed and agitated. Marco! It is too dangerous. And do not forget. `So we are isolated now.' Marco shook his head. `I have seen our defences. `Do they know what we face?' `I think they have some fear that all is not well.' `Who can kill with bolts of fire.' Giuliano looked hard into the eyes of his stead fast companion. the news could spread alarm and panic.
you are the ruler now . Exactly. then convert to the Copernican system. Roughly will be no good at all.' the young Prince hesitat ed.. There are those who will go from here saying the Duke of San Martino is weak. Where is he?' `In Hieronymous's room. He was perc hed on a stool his right eye firmly glued to Giuliano's telescope which pointed skywards out of the window. that's eight. and seventeen from sixty.' He adjusted the brass screw on the side of the sextant. `Unfortunately. `Giuliano. ready to be toppled. dear Marco.' `Forty-three.' repeated the Doctor sharply. You and I both know it. Sarah.' . hundred and twenty degrees. but all is not normal. If you falter at the first challenge.. Then clasping Marco's arms in his. But what he does there I know not. took a sighting and began a rapid calculation.' `Oh. Doctor?' `I'm trying to get this thing to work.' For several moments the young Prince did not respond. Marco. I will seek the Do ctor's advice.' `Astrolabe. the alidade is almost a whole degree out. `Compensate for e rror. He waggled his fingers. He has been there since thi s morning. `I don't know. `The medieval sextant.office that was his inheritance. Better to trust your guards and hold the masque as though all were normal. A leader. There are eyes watching.' The Doctor he ld out a hand.' He levelled the sextant towards the sun. `What?' `The astrolabe. you may lose everything. ' Sarah scratched her head and selected the most likely contender from the curio us instruments which lay scattered about the chamber. he smiled. `You speak sense as alway s. His companion grasped him by the shoulders. `What exactly are you tryi ng to do.
`E ight minutes and forty-three seconds after nine o'clock tonight. `Remember Hieronymous.' He paused.`Forty-three. They take away the one thing worth having.' `And that's when the brethren will attack?' The Doctor nodded. `Once let them gain control and man's ambition will never stre tch beyond the next meal. `All right. Sarah held up her h ands. it amounted to the same denial of freedom.. `I imagine so.' Sarah pulled a face. `it's when all this paraphernalia could become man's only science. I'm convinced.' The Doctor stepped down from the window. The ability granted to every intelligent species to shape its destiny. `It's not non sense. animate d by his concern. a lunar eclipse. or Mandragora and Earth. It was oppression and tyranny he fought. thank you Sarah.' `Wh ich is?' `The essence of life. mindless s heep. Purpose. They'll turn you into sheep..' It was not often the Doctor grew so heated or showed his true feelings. They dominate and control by Helix Energy. Whether on a small scale with Federico and San Martino. He had adopted the familiar lotus position of .' he ges tured around the room. The Mandragorans don't conquer in a physical sense. that's. `Astrology? You mean when Mars is in the house o f the ram and all that nonsense?' `Nonsense?' retorted the Doctor. Sarah often wondered why he cared so much for Earth an d its people. I've done it. There was no reply from the Doctor. that's it. Idle. `But what ca n we do?' she asked finally. But she knew it was the principle which counted.' `What?' `Mandr agora swallows the moon. In other words. what he did to you. More important. astral influence.' He beamed. his voice raised and angry at the thought.' He wagged a finger at Sarah. useless.
. You must have some about the place. `All or nothing. hands pressed firmly together.' He started towards the door. `I think. `Doctor. Instead there was a tap at the door and Giuliano entered accompanied by a soldier. eyes closed. it's at least a hundred and fift y years since wire-drawing machines were invented. i.. `Did you have a question?' . intercepting him.' The Doctor strode to the door then turned. man. `I'd like. I have a question.. remembering something. That's the answer!' He beamed triumphantly at Giuli ano.' The Prince gave a baffled shrug.e.' The Doctor suddenly opened his eyes and bounced to hi s feet.' `I came to seek his advice. Sarah frowned.' The Doctor flashed a quick smile. Exhaust it. `Yes wire! Good heavens. `Can you get me one of these? And a good length of wire?' `Wire?' Giuliano l ooked bewildered. `Thinking?' queried the Prince. `Doctor. Sarah.' said Giuliano.' The Doctor le t out a loud snore. and now sat immob ile in the middle of the room.' explained Sarah. there's only a cert ain amount of it. I'll have to take a gamble.an Eastern mystic. And by now it must be spread pretty thinly among Hieronymous a nd the brethren. `If it's ionised plasma it's molecular. `Don't worry. `If you would speak to the palace armou rer.' `Of course. `Hello. yes! I'll see him right away. `he's only thinking.' The Doctor tapped the soldier's chainmail jerk in.' Giuliano broke off and stared at the Doctor..
Sarah will love it. Hieronymous incline d his head.' The Doctor chuckled. `And save me a cost ume.' said Sarah with heavy sarcasm. I love a good knees up. The purple glov es still covered his long. `it'll be just my scene!' The Doctor popped his head round the door again. `The hour fast approaches.' `What is your plan. Of course you must hold the masque. extended fingers. ascended the altar steps. like dry leaves rustling in the wind. devoid of emotion. you have a lot of guests to entertain. his golden mask glinting in th e flickering torch-light. where once the astro loger's own beady eyes looked out.' ventured Giuliano tentatively.`I wanted to speak to you about tonight's masque--the ball for all our distingui shed visitors. She had forgotten how unsettling t he Doctor's bouts of enthusiasm could be to anyone who didn't know him. Sarah was forced to la ugh at the young Duke's perplexed expression. also masked. There was a movement in the shadows and the High Priest.' Then he was gone. Behind the eye-slits in the mask.' replied Giuliano. it sounded hoarse. Hieronym ous stood alone on the topmost step of the altar. `D angerous?' The Doctor shook his head vigorously. You're going to have a hop? How splen did!' `If you don't think it's too dangerous. No longer human. `Everything is arranged. was now a dim pulsating glow. `Oh I see. . `Duke.' He waved an arm and disappeared. but it could yet be c ancelled. `Oh yes. Great One?' The High Priest's voice echoed through the sepulchral gloom. Giuliano.
Tonight they are to be destroyed.' Hieronymous dropped his voice to a whisper. many rulers and nobles. We will provide the entertainers!' The H igh Priest bowed low and backed away into the shadows.' `The mighty sky gods? What would they have us do.`The plan of Mandragora. `This time and place were well chosen. `There is still an entrance they know nothing of. As he did so a peculiar c roaking noise emanated from behind the grinning mask of Hieronymous. `Tonight there is a masque in the Duke's honour. In this way shall be est ablished the power and supremacy of those masters we serve. `I am but the vessel for those w ho hold dominion over the cosmos. lord.' He leant closer to his acolyte's ear. like a hide ous inhuman cackle. . `The Duke has deployed many soldiers. All the entrances to the palace are fo rtified and heavily guarded. men of science and learning. Bring me ten of the brethren. All of them. Assembl ed in the palace are many scholars. I will take them to the palace.' answered Hieronymous.' The High Priest bow ed. lord?' Hieronymous turned to face the High Priest and the eyeslits in his g houlish mask grew red and fierce.
`A little plan. At this moment Sarah entered th e room her arms laden with a number of fancy dress costumes.11 Duel to the Death In Giuliano's room the Doctor was endeavouring to get into the chainmail jerkin. `Now the coat. `Ar e you putting on weight?' The Doctor looked hurt. He tugged and heaved at the weighty garment.' . Sarah walked up to him and prodded his stomach. At last he managed it with the help of the palace armourer and a good deal of ill-tempered muttering. The jerkin was the largest the palace possessed but still it was a tight fit. `How do I look?' en quired the Doctor anxiously. Sarah held out the costumes. `This is rather dignified. don't you think?' The Doctor donned the lion's head and let out a roar.' The Doctor turned to the armourer. placed a long coil of metal wire on the sw ord-chest and then left. struggling to fasten it round his bulky frame.' The armourer bowed. `Giuliano sent you these t o choose from.' The Doctor selected a baggy russet-coloured garment with a large lion's head. `I think it's ridiculous to be talking about fa ncy dress--I mean if we're in such desperate danger. `Leave the wire. `And what's that in aid of?' S he yanked the metal jerkin. I don't want it to show.' The ar mourer helped the Doctor into his velvet frock-coat shaking his head in bewilder ment at this eccentric and unorthodox procedure.
`Coming?' She smiled weakly and followed him out. The Doct or clutched the lion's head. `I'll settle for t he lion. The Doctor took her hand. Sarah turned away. On a bench beneath a window were seated three bizar re figures in fancy dress. genuinely upset. The Doctor and Sarah arrived in one of the ante-rooms with Marco. `Remember the French before A gincourt?' The lion's head waggled stupidly. `Desperately bad.' The Doctor picked up the wire. `Things are bad. `Is Leonardo da Vinci among that lot?' . The musicians were tu ning up in the balcony and kitchen boys scurried hither and thither with last mi nute additions to the huge banqueting table which ran along one side of the ball room. The Doctor drew Marco' s attention to the monstrous trio. `Oh stop it! ` cried Sarah. Sarah eyed him seriously.The Doctor pawed the air with his hands.' she said bitterly. aren't they?' `Yes. In the state rooms and adjoining ante-chambers the guests were already trickling in prior to the masque commencing. an oxen with gaping jaws. In that moment Sa rah knew they were up against something far more powerful and frightening than e ven she had dared imagine. `the worse the situation the worse your jokes get. and an ogling clown with bloa ted cheeks and stringy hair falling around its shoulders. a goat's head in white alabaster with snarling nostri ls and fiercesome horns. There were times when the Doctor's behaviour infuriated her. `One thing I've noticed about you. `Very bad?' The Doctor nodd ed. all right?' he said quickly.' His blue eyes met Sara h's and for once they lacked their natural warmth and sparkle.' The Doct or stopped his fooling abruptly and removed the costume head. We can only do our best--and hope. threw back his lion's mane and roared a gain.
you said it was dangerous.Marco smiled. yes. I shou ld be able to drain it off. if I've guessed right about the nature of Helix Energy.' The y had reached the colonnade which led down to the dungeons.' she said to herself quietly and there was a look of sadness in her eyes. `Those are the entertainers. `And if you're wrong?' The Doctor smi led expansively. `I don't think I'm ever going to see Leonardo.' `What for?' protested Sarah.' `Did I? Oh.' Marc o sped away.' The Doctor turned and faced her. The Doctor turned to Sarah.' Sarah caught hold of the Doctor's arm and forced him to a halt.' He lifted the coil of wire.' Sarah nodded. `Have the dungeon entrance opened. `Doctor. In the temple ruins a figure slid into the Sacrific ial Chamber and approached the purple form of Hieronymous standing sentinellike beside the altar. `A Time Lord has to do what a Time Lord has to do. `When have I ever been wrong about anything?' He gave her a sly wink and disappeared down the corridor. `Cosmic rays-.' He addressed Marco a gain. Doctor.' `Well is it dangerous?' `Only if I've guessed wrong.negatively charged high-energy particles--follow magnetic li nes of force. `Lots of times. Sarah stared after his retreating figur e and bit her lip. you're not equipped. Sarah.' `I'll see to it at once. `I want you to stay here and keep an ey e on this lot. So. `I wish you'd stop giving me flip answers ! ` `All right. .' The Doctor shook his head. disappoin ted. `Besides.
Then.' reported the High Priest urgently. . Then with a shout he leapt from the stilts and somersaulted up onto a trestled table.' The High Priest bowed once more and g lided away into the shadows.' The High Priest bowe d. he began to juggle with them high in the air. he unwound the coil of wire and began scra bbling about in the dirt at the base of the altar. There were `ooh s' and `ahs' of delight as he wobbled about the floor. Hieronymous watched him disappear. Plucking three lighted torches from the wall. After one or two lively op ening dances the musicians delivered a roll on the drums and through the large d ouble doors tottered a motley clad jester on tall wooden stilts. `Glory to Demnos. A few moments later a grinning lion's head peered round a broken column. He glanced quickly round the cavernous chamber to make sure he was alone . then strutted ma jestically down from the altar and vanished through a hidden exit. laying aside the lion's head. In the palace the state rooms were now full of guests as the masque began. and the Doctor stepp ed out.' `The others are inside ?' `Concealed from prying eyes.' `And to Mandragora. towering over the frighte ned lady courtiers. They await only my signal. The visiting dignitaries were easy to pick out in their sumptuous costumes. `Shall I order our br others into position?' `Yes.`The masque has begun. Every guest wore a mask or disguise of some kind and there was much chaffing and banter as young gallants tried to guess the identity of their pretty partners. Kill all who try to escape. each with a clutch of courtiers swagge ring and prancing around them in exaggerated fashion.
Marco.' Marco followed his gaze and it was true.Giuliano looked on from a raised dais at the far end of the room. were muttering quietly t o one another and casting anxious looks about the room.' G iuliano gestured towards the floor. Small knot s of guests. Marco grasped the young Duke's arm encouragingly.' The Prince broke off to applaud the juggler. take heart.' `I don't like the smell of it. close advisers of visiting Heads of State. As he nodded politely to the Duke and Duchess of Milan he caught sight of Marco anxiously pu shing towards him through the crowd. He was doing his best to be outwardly calm and courteous to his vis itors.. `Perhaps. Our walls are thick and solid a nd the guards well-trained--a match for any in the land. See how quiet they are. `Even our guests sense that something is wro ng. It is as though they are waiting for something. The brethren.' Giuliano hushed his companion and drew him t o one side. my lord. `Giuliano. `Is Hieronymous with them?' `He has not been seen. `Sire!' `What is it?' `I have heard a repor t from the guards. They are just standing silently in the shadows. `What of them?' `They are all round the outside of the palace. a faint smile on his lips.' `You think we have nothing to fear?' `I think by dawn H ieronymous will have realised his mistake. He and his followers will leave San M artino to search for easier pickings elsewhere.' Giuliano looked puzzled..' . `What could it be--a signal?' Marco shrugged. but his thoughts were on the hidden danger that lay outside. At least we have your u ncle to thank for that.
' con tinued Marco. even lower this time. thrusting a blazing torch into his mouth without apparent harm . `Who.`I hope you are right. not knowing what's happening. `Have you seen the Doctor?' she asked. Marco followed suit and the tw o of them descended from the dais onto the dance floor. if needs be. Giuliano rose to his feet and led the applause. and found himself strongly attracted to this mysterious stran ger. and Giuliano realised with a shock i t was the Doctor's companion. Sarah. As she stood on the edge of the dancer s a Florentine gallant stepped forward and made a low bow before her. `He should be here by now. There was a cry of amazement from the guests clustered about the juggler as he reached the f inale of his act. her lustrous hair. Sarah seemed oblivious to the effect she had caused. `It must be nearly nine. The gallant bowed ag ain.' Giuliano acknowledged his frien d's counsel then smiled and bowed to a pretty young lady who approached. As the young gallan t minced . me?' responded Sarah. And long before that the armies of neighbouring states would come to our help.' he answered endeavouring to regain hi s composure.' Sarah scoured the dancing thro ng but the Doctor was nowhere to be seen.' answered Marco. She wor e a beautiful satin gown of exquisite pearl grey and a filigree silver mask cove red her eyes.' replied Giuliano but he seemed unconvinced. Giuliano was especially taken with the delicate nape of her neck.' she said impatiently. `This waiting. `Sire. Sarah shrugged and took his hand.' `It was eight of t he evening when I toured the guards. `No. is worse than being with him. looking round to see if she was mistaken. `we can hold out here for a month.
to form a circuit. From this he had led off a number of `spokes' to the area immediately surrounding the altar and camouflaged the whole skein of wires with earth and stones. in contact with it. He had run the wire right round the base of the altar. to gain inspiration and streng th of purpose from the sacred stone. He had his back to the hidden exit. `You profan e the sacred stone. after a few minutes. And in that short time the Doctor knew he h ad to make his move. menacing.' The voice was deathly. the oxen. The Doctor turne d casually. The Doctor was crouched low by a corner of the altar finishing off his work. The muscles in the Doctor's face tensed but he kept his relaxed posture. The handsome young Duk e raised an eyebrow and smiled. Sure enough. The remaining wi re he attached to the chain jerkin beneath his coat. the goat. As Sarah whirled elegantly about the dance floor she caught sight of the hideous features of the entertainers standing motionles s in the corners of the room. he heard the sound of someone picking their way through the ruins towards him. draw Hieronymous and the Helix Energy into a deadly and dec isive confrontation. or else all was lost. `Hello there! Had a hard day in the catacombs?' `You profane the sac red stone!' . Instinct told him that Hi eronymous would return. war-like.off with his prize Sarah threw Giuliano a desperate look. and for some re ason the sight of them sent an icy chill down her spine. leaving the other end free to trail on the ground. he leant casually against the altar and dusted his hands. before the final assault. and the clown. satisfied. Then.
`Had it not been you. even the galaxy itself may not co ntain him! We of Mandragora will not permit a rival power within our dominion! ` `Pity. man's curiosity might lea d him away from this planet until. `How dare yo u oppose the might of Mandragora!' `I'm afraid it's part of a Time Lord's job to insist on justice for all species. Hieronymous rushed towards him. there would have been other travellers drawn i nto the Mandragora Helix.' said the Doctor. grasping motion. Doctor! ` he screamed and. `why have you come here.' The purple gloved hands re ached out in a clenching.' `Really?' The Doctor backed away carefully down the altar steps. . raising his righ t arm. Just be your natural ho rrid self.' Hieronymous halted about twelve feet away. you see. `because I can't allow you to interfere with Earth's p rogress.' `You arrogant dolt! ` Hieronymous advanced threateningly. He knew that any second now Hieronymous could point his finger and the lethal b olts would be unleashed. the horrible. deliberately fudging the issue. ultimately. Earth had to be possessed.' The Doctor spread his arms in a friendly gesture.' `Then you will be swept aside like the dirt that you are. He staggered backwards but managed to regain his balance. Time Lord?' `Well I had no choice. and he wanted to be in the correct position. contorted visage illuminated by th e red-hot energy force within.`Come now! You know who I am. fired a bolt of Helix Energy straight at the Doctor. The eye-slits of his mask seemed ablaze in the dark shadows of the cavern. Suddenly. `Die. `You can drop all that bosh about stones and profanity.' replied the Doctor. There was a bright f lash and the Doctor felt a massive jolt in his chest like a powerful electric sh ock. `Unchecked.
`Time Lords don't die so easily,' he gasped through gritted teeth. Hieronymous m oved in closer for the kill. `We shall crush you! ` A second bolt sped from his fingertips and slammed into the Doctor's body. The Doctor twisted with the pain but remained standing. He managed a mocking grin. `Not doing too well, are you?' Hieronymous hissed with rage and another burst of Helix Energy stabbed the Doct or's chest. This time the pain was excruciating and he fell to one knee. The cha in-mail jerkin was taking the force of the impact but growing red-hot in the pro cess and burning into the Doctor's flesh. The Doctor's right hand groped for the wire running to the ground by his side. It too was fiercely hot and on the poin t of melting. Once that snapped the massive charge of Helix Energy would no long er be `earthed' and the next bolt would travel directly through the Doctor's bod y, burning him to a frazzle as it did so. The Doctor raised his head and looked towards Hieronymous. Surely the Helix Energy was beginning to dwindle? His whole gamble rested on the assumption of a limited, finite amount within each of the brethren. Exhaust it and nothing would remain. Hieronymous raised his arm a thir d time and pointed at the Doctor. `Now die! Now!' A blue flash of lightning crac kled from his fingers but this time not so powerfully, and the impact barely jol ted the Doctor. He struggled to his feet and presented his chest squarely toward s the advancing Hieronymous. As he did so he felt the earth-wire snap. This was it. He would have to absorb the force of the next bolt himself--or die in the at tempt. `Come on then,' braved the Doctor. Hieronymous raised his arms to the roo f and cried out in beseeching tones. `Mandragora! Help me! ` Then, swinging roun d for the final
time he aimed his crooked fingers at the Doctor's chest and let out a piercing v engeful howl. The Doctor closed his eyes as the flash of blue spat through the a ir towards him.
12 The Final Eclipse Outside the palace. San Martino lay still and deserted beneath the clear night a ir. The strong moon light, which earlier had bathed the narrow cobbled streets i n a pale silver glow, was now fading as the giant shadow of the Earth crept acro ss the lunar landscape. Occasionally the sound of music and dancing carried acro ss the rooftops, like distant fairy revels; while beneath the palace walls stood scores of black-hooded brethren, silent and expectant, the shadowy harbingers o f death and destruction. Inside, the masque was in full swing. The guests seemed to have forgotten their earlier anxieties and the wine and music flowed faster and faster. Sarah was even beginning to master the complicated dances, particula rly when Giuliano was her partner. But, unlike Cinderella, she kept a firm eye o n the clock. `Have you seen the Doctor?' she panted as Giuliano took hold of her for another gavotte. `Not yet.' `It's nearly nine. Something must have happened to him.' Giuliano gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. `He may be already here. If he's wearing his costume...' `He'd have let us know.' Sarah did a graceful pi rouette and at that precise moment caught sight of a lion mask staring at her fr om the far end of the room behind the dais. She broke off from Giuliano and push ed her way towards it. `Doctor! What happened? Where have you been?' The costume d figure gave her a mock salute and whirled away behind a column and into an ant e-chamber.
Perhaps she had made a mistake. brothers! Kill!' There was a curious. She stretche d out her hand and quickly pulled the mask off. sizzling shafts into the screaming bodies round them. framed by the cowl of the brethren. `Stop playing the fool! Tell me what happened! ` She s topped herself and stared at the lion's head. `Stop! Stop. no head. it is you. From a commanding position on the dais it raised a g loved hand above the heads of the dancing throng and cried out. unreal silence as the music ceased and everybody lo oked round.?' The lion's head re mained motionless. screeching and yelling with fear. No face. masked fi gures within their midst turned upon them with bolts of fire.. There was something different abou t it. A total massacre seeme d imminent.Sarah caught up with him. i n purple cloak and golden . Mercilessly. nothing. except a dazzling iridescent sph ere of light. The goat-head. `Kill. People ran in all directions. Sarah saw her Florentine gallant hurled to the floor and in seconds the air was thick wit h the smell of burning flesh. it's fanged jaws gaping at her in mock derision. `Doctor. The shock of what she saw made h er scream in terror. Suddenly a voice rang out above the din. brothers!' Sar ah whirled round. On the raised dais stood the commanding form of Hieronymous. the oxen. and the grinning clown threw off their headpieces to reveal the familiar cowled shapes of the brethren beneath. they raised their fingers to shoot blinding. As servants and princes alike dashed for the exits still more brethren poured into the room. In horror Sarah realised they had bee n let into the palace by their fellows on a given signal. The figure pushed her aside an d rushed into the ballroom.. But as the crowd jostled and fought to escape. Then pandemonium broke out.
like a ring of grinning fiends from hell. We have been tricked. She thought the young Duke looked defeated and forlor n but his face only expressed what they were all feeling. `The final sacrifices must be made in our temple! Bring the victims of Mandra gora down by the temple. Although she hoped against hope.mask. The wome n clung together weeping and moaning. From out of the shadows the . `Go below.' There was a moment's uncertainty and then Sarah was ro ughly grabbed by arms of steel and herded into the centre of the room together w ith the rest. Once assembled in the central sacrificial cham ber they were bound with thick rope and grouped in a circle in the ruins about f ifty feet from the altar. Giuliano and Marco were roped close together a nd Sarah was not far away.' `Silence!' ordered the f igure of Hieronymous. She found herself next to a dazed Giuliano. their gay and colourful costumes now torn and mud-spattered by the journey. all of you!' The guests were quickly surrounded by the brethren who made them file out of the palace and into the night towards the ruined temple. confuse d. The brethren turned. betrayed. Sarah had counted twenty heads of state and noblemen a mongst the prisoners besides a large number of courtiers of both sexes. `The brethren. He shook his head mour nfully. in her heart she knew he must already be dead. He raised his arms above the cowed revellers. The brethren had gathe red in a circle round the altar. As she stumbled over the cobbles in the cold air Sarah wonde red despairingly what had befallen the Doctor. The frightened and bewildered ban d of captives were marched swiftly through the streets of the city and into the creepy passages of the catacombs.
At the same time the sound of tumbling masonry was augmented by a highpitched wail which almost drowned Hieronvmous. The brethren followed suit. But the brethren remained transfixed to the floor. we. Now. `Mandragora. ' There was an eerie grinding noise all around them and Sarah felt a chill wind rustle her hair.' whispered Sarah. devilish. Bestow your power upon us that we may rule over the whole o f your dominion!' The shrieking. There was a hum. a brilliant sphere of light seemed to swoop down through the roof of the temple. Screams of torture and anguish rang out from the hooded figures as they struggled to . the power of Mandragora will flood the Earth. At thi s instant Hieronymous jumped clear of the altar steps and ran from the central a rea. your s ervants welcome you. as it was written. The atmosphere was weird. The cracked and ja gged walls of the chamber began to shimmer and a strange luminous glow appeared on them. It hovered a few moments above the altar then slowly descen ded into the slab causing it to glow with white-hot heat. each brother illuminated like a fire-brand with crackling. and suddenly sheets of blue flame lea pt from the altar to the outstretched fingers of the encircling brethren. Hieronymous lowered hi s arms and pointed towards the centre of the altar. `It must be starting. like a build-up of power. `Now Mandragora swallows the moon. It gradually grew in strength until the outline of a ghostly Roman temp le was discernible. roaring din grew unbearable and Sarah and the o ther captives buried their heads in one another's shoulders to escape the ear-sp litting wail.' Hierony mous's voice echoed loudly round the cavernous chamber.majestic figure of Hieronymous appeared. He ascended the altar steps and lifted his arms up high. uncanny. sizzling Helix Energy. `The eclipse. Then.
Their cloaks caug ht fire and the ground where they stood erupted with sheets of flame which sped under-foot towards the base of the altar. Sarah was hurled to the ground toget her with everyone around her. `A case of energy squared.' A day later th e Doctor and Sarah were riding across the Slopes of Sorrow to the vineyard where the TARDIS had first landed. but at least she had made the Doctor explain what had happened. `I'm ready to accept your congratulations. Sarah g asped unable to believe her eyes. All that remained were heaps of empty clothing in a circle round the altar. grating ton es the exact replica of Hieronymous's voice. It puts Mandragora back to square one.' He w inked at Giuliano.' said the Doc tor with a touch of impatience. When she recovered the noise and ghostly vision we re gone. Sarah was still numbed by the events of the previo us night. They had per ished where they stood. `Even I have to admit that was rathe r clever of me.move but they seemed held in the grip of an immutable current. taking a breath. His ta lent for mimicry was self-evident.' he beamed. he spoke in deep. `I wouldn't even say no to a salami sandwich. don't just stand there.' Sarah stared at him mute with wonder. As the circuit was completed there was a blinding flash and tumultuous explosion. Giuliano a nd Marco were likewise struck dumb. Of the entire brethren there was no sign. Hieronymous mounted the altar steps and to ok off his mask. every single one. She had forgotten how . `Doctor!' The Doctor threw back the purple hoo d and gazed round at the vanished brethren. All that remained was the smoking slab of the sacrificial block where o nce she had lain herself. Then. Beneath it was revealed the smiling face of the Doctor. `Well.
a trifle off-hand.gifted he was at such parlour tricks. He took her hand. and Sarah wanted to share that task with Giuliano. mustn't we Sarah?' Sarah gave Giuliano a heartfelt lo ok. Giuliano. accompanied by Giuliano and his footman. Sarah felt a deep longi ng to stay. Doctor. `It is we who should thank you. Sarah bit her lip. There was much reparation needed in the hearts and minds of the peop le of San Martino. thank goodness. that's all you need. But she kn ew the Doctor would not understand.' `It will all c ome in time. like his fellows later.' He shook hands with Giuliano and headed for the TARDIS.' replied the Doctor. Besides. he was already exhibiting signs of itchy feet.' The young Duke b owed. The small group reached the clearing which led to the TARDIS and reined in their horses and dismounted. ` Excellent. The Doctor was always the same when it came to saying goodbye. He explained how he had managed to withstand the astrologer's f inal desperate onslaught. The Doctor had then borrow ed his costume to lure the brethren to their destruction. unsenti mental and unromantic. Once drained of his Helix Energy the outward shape of Hieronymous simply collapsed.' he said with his mouth full. Now as they jogged acr oss the fields. `There is so much we could learn from you. and it didn't do to cross him in that mood. The Doctor w ent on ahead to inspect his machine and came back smiling a few minutes later. `Thank you.' He began to munch at an enormous salami sausage. ` Still there. . But his confrontation with Hieronymous was another matter. He had pulled her leg more than once about t he handsome young Duke. `Keep an open mind. Will you not reconsider?' `No. we really must be on our way.
.' he sa id reaching for the TARDIS key. but Eart h will. `I never met Leonardo da Vinci then.. Sarah.' he called out as he reached the TARDIS door. Nor would there ever be aga in. The door closed behind her. Giuliano. `He looks so wistful.' `Five hundred years? But that takes us to. `Perhaps it's just as well. There were no girls quite like her in San Martino. Simultaneously.' Sarah did a quick cal culation. the little white light on top started flas hing and the whole contraption slowly faded into thin air before his very eyes. The Duke followed her lithe form as she skipped after the Doctor. Sarah caught up with the Doctor.`Come on. She turned bef ore reaching the TARDIS and waved. He saluted in return and shook his head sadly ..' She kissed him gently on the cheek and hurried off . and followed. Twenty yards away Giuliano watched wi th amazement as the strange blue box began to emit a peculiar trumpeting noise l ike a wounded animal.' But Sarah was not listening. `Poor Giuliano!' she said. `He won't. It was just as if nothing had ev er been . Will he have any more trouble from Mandragora?' The Doctor paused on the TARDIS threshold.. Sarah shrugged. She was stil l wearing the satin gown from the ball and her hair in a chignon. Sarah turned to G iuliano. gave a final wave to Giuliano. The footman struggled to control the plunging horses as Giuliano ran forward and probed the ground where the TARDIS had rested. `Goodbye. just about the end of the twentieth century!' The Doctor nodded a nd disappeared inside the TARDIS. `. Their constellation will be in position to try again in another five hun dred years. I'd have had to tell him his submarine design was totally impractical.
`There is a reason for everything. but not afraid.' . The young Duke gazed up at the sky. puzzled. One day science will exp lain it all.there.' he said to himself. `Even this.
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