The Doctor and I stood in a large room, in a temple-like building. Just as the other buildings I had seen during my magic flight, this structure was part living material. The roof was cleverly woven living vines. The walls were living trees with roots and leaves. Inset into the walls were glass windows and doors. It resembled what I had always imagined as an elven settlement in sci-fi fantasy.
"This would be a wiccan paradise, Doctor. Do they have fairies too?" I asked, trying to make a joke.
He gave a yuck sound. "Terrible creatures, fairies. They bite."
"So, fairies from the Labyrinth," I nodded. "Right. That's disappointing."
"No, I'm lying again. No fairies," he chuckled. "They are more like pixies."
"Cut it out, beggar man." I rolled my eyes. "I wish you would tell me something real about this place and these people."
"Carrionites." He said.
"These people are called Carrionites. And very different from what's inside here." He held up the crystal ball.
"What's in there?" I asked. I leaned into it and looked into the ball. That was a mistake. I was startled by the images of classic, ugly witches banging on the glass and screaming obscenities at me. "Ug! Those are Carrionites too?"
He nodded. "Yeah, the ugly ones with warts."
I thought a minute back to my stories. Then, I made a deduction. "Then, it's true."
"Dark magic will turn a witch into a hag," I said. "You know, Dark as in negative. Negative magic has negative consequences on a witch. It is a..." I was interrupted.
"A reflection of the heart from within. Yes, that is correct," said a woman as she approached. "Do you practice, Muggle-wuzzle?"
I turned to her and smiled. "If I practice magic, it's the practical kind."
"The noblest kind of magic, indeed. Well met, I am the Vasha," she said. "And I believe, you are trespassing, Time-lord. But for a good reason." The woman smiled. She was wearing a long blue, draping dress. I would swear that it was silk, except that it had an ever-changing sheen of pale green and pink. Her dark hair was long and sloped down her back in a thick braid woven with feathers and shells. Her skin had a tan, golden hue as if she sunbathed. If she had pointed ears, she would have been a perfect elf. "May I see your gift?"
The shadow Doctor held up the crystal ball so she could get a good look. The Vasha peered in then gave a little jump. "Doomfinger and Bloodtide!" The Vasha looked up to the Doctor. "Wretched criminals both. They are wanted for escaping the Rextel Four prison grove! But that was ages ago. How is it that you have them?"
"It's a long story. But in short, it was done brilliantly if I do say so myself." He must have had a look of arrogance on his face because the Vasha responded as if he did. "I'm the Doctor. You can call me the Doctor instead of 'Time-Lord.' I would be happy if you did. And this is my friend, Jessica."
"Yes, your muggle-wuzzle who claims this is the crystal ball of the Spineless Witch." She raised her brow. "Would you like to meet her?"
"Yes, please," I said before the Doctor could interfere.
The Vasha escorted us into another chamber. Sitting at a window in a chair, was a witch. She was ancient but not ugly. The aura of a wise woman was overpowering. We approached her, and she turned to us. Her eyes were white. "Well met, travelers," she said.
"Good mother, this is..."
"I know who they are, Vasha. That is why I will see them." The old woman gave a dismissing gesture to the Vasha. When the Vasha left the room, the woman spoke again. "Doctor, we meet again. I am so pleased. But you have also put us in danger, once more."
The shadow Doctor knelt down with her. "Tekka, I am sorry I had to come. I know we agreed. I have a problem."
She took his hand and held it up to her cheek. "If I can assist you, then I will try."
The Doctor told the woman of the plant and me. He described the lines and what they were doing. He told her everything.
I was completely shocked that he spilled everything to her. That wasn't something that the Doctor usually does. He keeps things inside, locks them up, and doesn't ask for help. Let me tell you, it was weird!
"Tekka, this is something out of Time-lord myth. Now that I see it with my own eyes, I need to know if there is any truth to it. Do you know anything?" He said.
She smiled. "Give me the crystal ball, and I will tell you what you want to know."
The Doctor handed the ball over to Tekka. The witch took it into her hand and held it up to her face. "Doomfinger. You can no longer run, you vile thing." The screams from the crystal weren't nice. She chuckled and sat the ball next to her on a table. Then she turned back to us. "Now, for your answers."
She leaned back in the chair and looked pleased with herself. "The answer is yes, Doctor. There was a time, long ago that the Carrionites and the Time-Lords had an accord. Together, using words and numbers created the beginnings of what you might call TARDIS. The Carrionites grew the organic materials required. And yes, those organic parts were fused with power that one might call magic. But it isn't really magic Doctor; it is more along the lines of spirit. A living force that lives and flows throughout the universe. This energy is what Carrionites use and call magic. We can use and manipulate that power through our technology.
You see, the Time-lords were masters of numbers and logic. While we, the Carronites were masters of words and intuition. It was an excellent accord for a long time. Until the Carrionites discovered what the Time-Lords planned to do with the ships."
"Rassilon?" asked the Doctor.
She shook her head slowly. "No. That was before him. It was another. The majority of Carrionites have always been a peaceful people. We do not find glory by spreading through our world like a swarm of insects. We do not find honor in the destruction of those of whom it would be easy for us to live beside. It was never our plans to build an army for the destruction of an unknown and unseen villain from a prophecy."
My laugh interrupted her. "Yeah, it was probably him!" I blurted out rudely. Oh, I am sure I got the death stare from my beggar man, but right then, I couldn't care less. "Why is it always some big, great thing with you, Doctor? Why can't you be happy with a little adventure in the TARDIS? There's always a prophecy, or rampaging army hell-bent on consuming the universe." My sides started to hurt.
"Jessica, a little decorum if you please?"
"A request for decorum, from you?" I couldn't talk anymore. I was too busy using my air for laughing.
The Doctor stood up and gestured at me. "And this is why I don't travel with Americans!" He came over to me and kicked me in the shin. The pain calmed me down. He turned again to Tekka. "Please, continue."
"Yes, Tekka. I'm sorry. Please ignore me and continue," I wheezed. "And please do it as fast as you can. I'm not trying to be rude, but if you know the Doctor, then you also know, we are about to be invaded. Probably by Nazis in tin cans."
Tekka's face began to smile. Then, like a flash, it fell, and hard. "Long story short, Doctor, there was a political fight between the Time-Lords and the Carrionites. We took what we could of our tree groves and fled. Those trees are the main part of the functioning of the TARDIS. Only those tree, can hold the living spirit force. That is why your TARDIS is not only a mechanical ship programmed with logic but also a vessel that has the power of intuition." She stopped and turned towards the doors. "Vasha! Vasha!" The Vasha came running in. "Give the Doctor the book! Do it now!"
Now, you would think the Doctor heard all that. But he didn't. He was busy running to the window. "I was joking about the Nazis, Doctor," I said.
He ran back to me. "It's time for the human to shut up!" The Doctor was positively frantic.
"Oh, by the Nine!" I said quickly. "I really was joking about the Nazis in tin cans! Are those real?"
"Human-muggle-wuzzle shut up time!" He yelled at me.
The Vasha came running into the room with an ancient book. "Here, Take it. Go!"
"Are there trees here now? On this planet now?" he asked the Vasha quickly. The Vasha looked like she didn't want to tell. "Tell me! Don't lie! it's important!"
"Yes, dammit! Yes! Doctor, we have them, now. On this planet now. Please! Don't tell the Time-Lords," She pleaded.
"The Time-lords aren't what I am worried about right now!" He said. His body static flipped out again. Montage through once more, landing on an old man in a leather coat. His face looked wrinkled, weary, war-torn and so very sad. I took a step back from him. This Doctor wasn't right. The Doctor noticed and ran over to me. He grabbed me and shook me. "Who do you see? Who am I? Describe him!"
"Uh, leather coat, old, war-torn, really sad," I said.
"Time to move! Vasha! Move civilians to shelter. Get your defenses ready! They are coming!" He ran out of the room.
I bent down to Tekka. "What's he on about?"
"Oh, child. The Daleks are coming. They want to kill our trees, our groves. They are always looking. If the trees are gone, the Time-Lords can never build another army for war." She slowly rose from her chair. "One more thing before you go, it's important. Did you ever wonder why the TARDIS was called 'woman'?"
I pulled the arm of my shirt up to show her the bus lines. "I assume it is because a catalyst is required."
"All Carrionites are what you call women, child." She took my arm and examined it. "You still have some time. But I am afraid that the process is too far along. You will die."
"Death is irrelevant. It doesn't exist," I replied.
"You will do well, Muggle-wuzzle. She chose wisely." She smiled and nodded. "Now, go! Your Doctor needs you."
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