And she was gone, stepping from the T.A.R.D.I.S onto the steps of the palace. Hologram gown back in place, shoe strategically placed for the Grand Duke to find it, and the midnight bell tolling. He watched her lift her skirts and climb into her carriage racing off to her stepmother's home. When they'd first met all that time ago, though, in this reality, only seconds had passed, she'd have never known that her carriage would be leaving with her in it at the same time she saw the T.A.R.D.I.S arrive. Timey whimey madness.
His eyes remained glued to the carriage. All their adventures disappeared as it sped off over the hills and into the woods (the irony). She'd get there and wake up to meet the Grand duke, pretending to be happy, eager, but they'd both know better.
Trust me. The last thing he had whispered to her. And she had agreed, returning to set time back to rights. He was no god to change the precis of the universe's story, and as much as it destroyed him, she had to return, finish her story, or risk the consequences of changing a fixed point in time. The door clicked shut, and he pulled a switch without thinking, without calculating. This was the point of not getting attached, no companions, no goodbyes, and yet as always, he'd failed in his resolve.
Throughout time and space the T.A.R.D.I.S bumped about, she-his loyal companion, to locations he neither knew nor comprehended. He'd only known that he had to leave or risk changing time forever, reigning down wrath upon the universe. Time: set and immobile.
The T.A.R.D.I.S settled down, landing somewhere who knew, but he didn't move. Sinking down to the floor, he let his head bang against the door of the T.A.R.D.I.S. For a while he simply sat there, legs sprawled out in front of him, head slightly tilted back, eyes fixed on the ceiling. It took the jostling of the T.A.R.D.I.S to spur him into motion. It felt as though a herd of cattle had decided to reenact Mufasa's death; no matter how durable, the T.A.R.D.I.S wasn't going to stand for that long. Moving to the window, he looked out, trying to gain a glimpse of whatever was causing such commotion.
"Ah!" He jumped back, a round dripping red object having splatted into the window,sliding down and leaving a trail of..."Is that blood?" Pulling out his sonic screwdriver, he scanned over the coagulating liquid, fairly certain his hunch was correct. "Why, yes, it is. Strange." He leaned to look out the window again just as a metal ball, whizzed past. 'Yowzers! And I am glad no one was here to hear me say that, what is going on?"
A thick fog kept him from being able to see more than a blur of movements, but he was beginning to think— "A battle field? It's the only logical explanation, but why here? I should have paid attention. Well, nothing's getting done in here." And with that he opened the T.A.R.D.I.S door, and stepped-
"You there!" Out from the fog emerged three men, soldiers, dressed in uniform, two flanking a younger looking man, the one pointing at him.
"Me?" The Doctor gestured at himself, throwing a glance over his shoulder, even though he subconsciously knew only the T.A.R.D.I.S was behind him, and they couldn't be referring to her. One of the guards grabbed his upper arm and shook him bringing his thoughts back to the men in front of him. Obviously they had meant him. "Now just a minute here. I'm a civilian, honestly, I'm not really even certain where I am? What war is this?" He reached up and adjusted his glasses with his free arm, which was hastily grabbed by the other guard. "I was adjusting my glasses. Honestly, they do no harm."
"Quiet." The voice came from the leader, a young man with black hair that appeared perfectly styled even in the midst of the ruckus. "I'll be asking the questions. Take him to the prison tent and be certain he is secured. He seems a devious fellow, and I want no more setbacks. We are on schedule to end this silly skirmish with the dissatisfied locals, and I'm ready to be back home with all the comforts that entails. My father and the Grand Duke have been planning a ball for my return. I do believe my father plans to marry me off, but who knows these things?"
"Yes your highness." The guard holding the Doctor's right arm began to move forward.
"Your highness, ball? Well, that makes you a prince then? Cinderella's prince? But thats too unlikely." He tried to move towards the prince, but the guards jerked him back. "Really, the indignity—"
"See to it that he remains silent. I'm tired of hearing him speak." The prince turned about and began walking back onto the foggy battlefield.
"If that's what he's like it's no wonder Cinder—" A thundering pain swept across his head and all went black.
He opened his eyes and was greeted by darkness. In trying to move his arms to assess the injury on his head, he discovered his hands were bound behind him with what appeared to be rope, removable, but not without a slight struggle. He rested his head against the pole he was tied to, but the stabbing pain in his head kept him from staying in that position. Letting it fall forward, he allowed himself a cynical smile. The ache in his head distracted him from the ache in his heart. Cinderella was destined to marry a man, possibly that man, though improbably. A man who would never know who she really was. Just some decoration. Some prince. Perhaps this is why everyone speculated about ever after. The true tale had been changed and continued to be changed and adapted because the truth was too horrible.
By now his eyes had begun to adjust to the dark lighting, and he could make out the tent he was sitting in. Nothing much to note other than the tarp surrounding him and dirt on the floor. It didn't appear that the guards had searched him, merely tied him to the pole. So essentially nothing to hinder nor help him escape. If he could only get to his sonic screw driver. Lifting his hands, he tested whether or not he could move them up and down the pole, to his delight they slid up, which meant if he could lose the pole he could get free...and bring the tent down, but with it being night hopefully, he could get a headstart. He began to pull forward and then lean back.
It was taking too long by the time he finally freed the pole from its prison in the ground, it would be daylight, and if they—when they saw his attempts to escape, they would put an end to it. He leaned forward letting all his weight fall against the pole, feeling the ropes cut off his circulation, and grunted. The pole shifted forward, and gasping from the exertion, he pushed back on the pole, shoving it back the other way. It was much heavier now that he was supporting the majority of its weight, but the ground had given; he was closer to freedom.
The repetition now required his full attention, no more daydreamings of the impossible. He could see the tent swaying, hoping against hope that whoever was on night guard was not looking this way. He pushed his legs against the ground, using his knees to support his and the pole's weight he attempted to stand. Much heavier than he expected, the pole barely lifted from the ground before dropping him back onto his rear. But it had moved. Bracing again, he put his full strength into lifting the pole. This time, it came up and out of the hole that he widened; unluckily though it fell forward instead of backwards, wacking him back to the ground.
Pain skiced through his skull and spots danced before his eyes, but he shook it off and began to pull his hands down the length of the pole. He could hear men talking too close by and knew discovery was not far off. As soon as he came to the end, he slipped his hands out of the rope that had been twisted to keep his hands bound tightly only while connected to the pole. He pulled his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and began searching for an edge of the fallen tent just as the first sounds of discovery were made.
He flipped off the tent and stood, screwdriver brandished as a weapon, just as the guard arrived. The man jerked to a hault seeing the strange "weapon" pointed at him. "That's right. Back away. Better," he commented as the man shuffled backwards. "Now take me to your leader, Prince-?"
"C-ch-charming, sir," the man stumbled. The Doctor lowered his arm, and stared at the man, a befuddled frown twisting his face in its overly expressive manner.
"Charming, you are joking? No don't reach for that sword. I really don't want to use this on you. It's quite advanced technology, and I'm not certain of the effects. They will be painful of course." His bluff brought the guard's movements to a halt. "Good, now Charming, if you please, and nomsudden movements. I really do prefer peace, but I have had a very bad day, and I'm really in little mood for games and deceit."
The guard fumbled a nod in his directionmbefore twisting and leading the Doctor through the camp. He hoped that no one took full notice of what was happening, invading a camp alone was risky, but he wanted answers.
The prince's tent came into sight before long, a grand structure too elaborate for the battlefield, but right in sync with the dandy's personality. The Doctor snorted, "No need to wait for an invitation to come in. Just introduce me as we walk in."
The man's color changed in the glow ofmthe sonic screwdriver, and the Doctor knew he'd not asked a light request, but the time for formality was simply over. Maybe if someone were there with him, but he seemed doomed to be alone.
"Soldier, what is the meaning of this?" The prince rose from his cushioned chair and pushed the papers on the desk back. "This man is a prisoner. Why-"
"Not anymore," the Doctor cut him short. "I am in need of some information, and this man wisely decidex to bring me to you, rather than see what effects my sonic-," he mumbled the next word, "will do to him."
"Are you threatening me?"
"I am a threat to all those who oppose time and threaten peace. Sit."
Stunned, the prince dropped back into his chair, warily eyeing the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. His bluff might actually get him what he wanted. All in a day's luck. He motioned for the guard to leave, who all to willingly obliged him, and then took a seat across from the Prince. This one did not have a cushion.
"Now I can tell from how things are arranged, your concern is for little other than yourself. However, indulge me. We do not have to be enemies."
The prince rose from his chair. "How dare you threaten me in such a fashion. My father-"
"Is not here, which means you must be the commander instead of hiding behind someone more powerful. Now what planet is this?"
"What kind of obscene question is that, God has provided life to only one planet."
"Yes, yes and the earth is the center of the universe. What war is this? And year? Be precise please."
"Are you mad?" The prince rose from his chair again and walked across the floor, clearly agitated. "You most be some insufferabl peasant trying to trick me into surrender. I wouldn't know why though. You are clearly losing. The skirmish will be cleaned up in no time. Your strange dress might have fooled me at first, but I do believe that object is harmless. Guards!"
The Doctor jumped from his seat and grabbed the prince, pushing him back against the table, holding him there by his shirt. For all his bravado, the man was slender and fine as though he'd never seen an actual day of battle in his life, instead choosing to direct from the safety of his tent.
The flaps of the tent flew apart. "Back off. Back off. Or I will blind this man." The guards moved cautiously, but they didn't stop moving toward him. "Oh! Really? I didn't want to actually have to do anything. Violence is so unnecessary. Oh well." And with that he flashed the sonic screwdriver in the prince's eyes.
"Enough stop!" The prince cried out. "The man is a praticioner of sorcerory and has managed to communicate with the unholy spirits. May he rot in hell. Stay back!" The soldiers had attempted tp move forward, and the Doctor threateningly pointed the "unholy device" back at the prince's eyes.
"The effects are not permanent now, as you should already know, but I would hate for them to have to become permanent. Blimey, I really don't like violence. Honestlym this whole thing should never have worked. Answer my questions. I'll leave you alone." He stepped back from the prince and stood to the side, relaxing his body into a more non-threatening posture. THe guards' eyes kept flicking back and forth between their prince and the Doctor, unsure as to how to respond to the obvious threat.
"You sir, have found your way to France in the midst of a local skirmish against the king." The prince finished with a glare.
"Well, now, that wasn't that difficult. If we had started like this we'd all be friends. Really though, you need to work on your diplomatic skills. Keep this behavior up, and well honestly, the French monarchy isn't going to have a cake walk through history. Funny Marie Antionette's downfall was over cake, anyway, that's beside the point."
"What is your point?" One of the guards interrupted.
"I'm not sure there was one. Sometimes I just feel the need to monologue."The Doctor shrugged. The men in the tent were beginning to look at him as though he had gone slightly mad, probably thought him possessed by some demon or other. "Still is the age of superstition after all. Anyway, I'd say good luck, but not really a fan of tyranny. He shrugged and walked out of the tent.
As he made his way toward the T.A.R.D.I.S, a strange sound caught his ears. He turned around to look behind him. His eyes could make out strange shapes riding down the mountainside. Dust billowed in clouds stirring up the air. All around men began to duck out of tents to explore the strange sound like a "battlecry? No, peasant skirmish ever sounded like that." He pointed the Sonic Screwdriver in the direction of the approaching enemy. "I do hope it scans the distance well." He slapped it on the palm of his hand. "No good I'll have to get closer."
He darted off in the direction of the riders as the prince poked his head out of his tent, shouting questions about what the commotion was all about. The Doctor ignored him, continuing in his pursuit of knowledge.
"Stop him! He's brought a new enemy to us." He could hear footsteps fall instep behind him, and picked up his pace.
"Of all the bloody idiots, why this prince?" Lifting his legs ridiculously high and lifting his screwdriver, he made a mad dash toward the enemy. "Never knew the Cinderella story had all this bloodshed and trauma behind it. Perhaps this will rectify the prince's attitude issues and make him into the docile man she spoke about. No wonder the two prince's don't mesh in her mind. This battle is enough to drive anyone into a mutiple personality disorder." He slid down a hill, bypassing the supplies and hoping he'd gained enough distance pointed the screwdriver in the direction of the cloud.
"You, stop with your sorcerory. You will not be the downfall of France." The prince snatched the Doctor by the lapel of his jacket and jerked him back, causing him to lose his grip on the sonic screwdriver. "What are you without your magic wand, warlock. After this battle, you will burn."
"No, you don't understand, it's the Moors. I didn't bring them, but you are no match for them. You need to retreat save you men. Regroup. Bloody hell, man, have you ever directed a battle before. You can't win as you stand. Order a retreat!"
"How dare you-I am the king's son, God's chosen, soldiers take him away!"
"Sire, look out!" The cry came from the multide of soldiers surrending, but it was too late. The enemy had come upon them, and an arrow had pierced through the heart of the prince. His grip on the Doctor went slack, and he fell, lifeless to the ground.
"The prince is dead," a soldier bellowed, a cry taken up by the ranks of soldiers. Mad panic began to run through the ranks in no particular order as panic rarely comes in an orderly fashion.
"Men! Men! Stand firm. If we don't make a stand here, the army will be dessimated. Your kingdom will be overrun. We stand here." He darted forward and picked up the sonic screwdriver from the dirt. "Someone hand me a sword." The men looked around at each other. Another arrow struck down a soldier, and the men began shuffling backwards in blind panic. The Doctor ran over to the body and grabbed his sword.
"Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day...This day we fight!By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand Men of the West." The men stopped and stared at him, a look of confusion crossing their face.
"The prince? But I thought-"
"How can this be?"
"It's a sign from God."
"The sorceror must have been a Saint from God, sent to save us."
"Rally to the Prince!"
"To the Prince!"
The Doctor stared, confused by the actions of the men, then with a shrug, he let out a battle cry, and charged forward.
Both armies clashed in the middle. Men fighting sword to sword against axe against bow. A blur of motion, but the valor of men can only be boosted so much when faced by an impossible force. The Doctor watched as sheer numbers overran his soldiers. One by one they dropped.
"Retreat!" He yelled. "Fall back men! To the T.A.R.D.I.S! I mean-the saints carriage! To the carriage!"
All around him, men began to fall back, trying to secure a line while surrounding the Doctor and attempting to shuffle him to safety. The Doctor made his way back to the T.A.R.D.I.S and selecting two fo the men closest by him, told them to stand watch. With that he jumped into the T.A.R.D.I.S and began flipping switches and turning knobs.
"Okay Moors, back off. Today is not your day. This is not your time. Something will go right for this story."
The T.A.R.D.I.S lifted off the ground flying through the Moor army and scattering the troups, giving the French the necesssary element of surprise to gain the upper hand.
The battlefield was empty. Only a few soldiers left behind to escort him back to the palace. Bt the Doctor stood waiting.
"Me? Have we met?"
The old woman giggled.
"What plan do you have here? Why are you doing this?"
"I assure you, I have no idea what you're talking about. I am merely an old lady with skills that can help my countrymen. Both on the battlefield and in the palace. The people need a wise ruler. I like you, like your face. You alone stood firm when so many were ready to fall, and all without ever taking a life yourself. Such regard for the living. I respect that."
"You haven't met her yet."
A smile spread across the Doctor's face. "In three days time, I will be throwing a ball to celebrate our victory and show the people the start of a new era, a new regime. There is a girl who needs to be there."
"And why would you think that?" The old lady smiled at him, her pale blue cloak fluttering in the wind.
"Because she is the most deserving girl I've ever met, and one day, we might just return the favor."
"Oh, do divulge the details. I love playing the Fairy Godmother."