CHAPTER 20

THE SORCERER

Jason stood on the beach facing the ocean with a dozen or so children approximately seven years of age in front of him. They were seated in a semi-circle watching the Healer in spellbound wonder. He had been teaching them the finer points of using their ability to transmute, which would give them greater speed, dexterity, and attention to detail. The lessons had also included his stern cautions on the dangers of abusing their powers, and the importance of the Laws of Alterrous.

As a treat for their last day together, Jason had informed his students that they were dispensing with the lessons and would be spending the entire time playing What am I? What his delighted students did not realize was the game was actually his way of testing what they had learned. With each round, he made the game more difficult.

When Jason announced the last round of the game, his students challenged him to a round of their own, which he amusedly accepted. The demonstration ended and the final round began just as Leela arrived at the edge of the forest. She watched in horror as the black-haired youth pointed to a child and called out what could only have been a spell. The child shimmered all over for several seconds and then became a horrible beast.

"Magic," Leela breathed. "Evil Magic."

The other children were obviously under a spell, too. They giggled and clapped as the sorcerer pointed to another child, and then another…

Finally, Leela could bear it no longer and drew her knife, determined to put an end to this wicked man's sorcery. Before she could rise to her feet, however, her wrist was grabbed firmly from behind.

"I would appreciate it, Leela," the Doctor said wearily, "if you would refrain from killing anyone while we're here."

Leela pulled her hand free. "Doctor, I've seen a sorcerer. He turns children into beasts."

"Now, Leela…"

Rising to her feet, she pointed to the beach. "I have seen a sorcerer, Doctor! He's right there."

The Doctor looked in the direction indicated, seeing only a grinning young man waving good-bye to a group of giggling, squealing children. Turning back to his astonished companion, he said, "Is that who you mean?"

"But…they were beasts," she insisted. "I saw them!"

"Perhaps we should go see your sorcerer and ask him about it," the Doctor said reasonably, blithely sauntered down towards the amiable looking youth on the beach.

"Doctor, no! Please, do not go!" Leela called after him. "Doctor!"

The Doctor ignored her shouts but Jason did not. He turned to see what all the fuss was about, his mouth dropping open when he saw the Time Lord approaching. Breaking into a broad smile, he cried delightedly, "Doctor! This is wonderful. When did you arrive?"

Stunned by the unexpected greeting, the Doctor stopped dead in his tracks. How did the boy know his name? he thought. Was he a sorcerer after all? No…there was something familiar about him.

"How did you know I was down here?" the young man was asking as he came over to the mystified Time Lord. "Did Hendrix tell you?"

"Er…no, actually," the Doctor replied haltingly. "We…uh, decided to have a walk in the fresh air first."

"We?"

The Doctor nodded towards his knife wielding companion and said, "We. This is Leela. She has the strangest idea that you've been turning those children who just left into beasts."

The Alterran's eyes lit up and he immediately burst into laughter, much to Leela's annoyance. "I suppose it would appear that way to an outsider," he managed finally. "We were playing What Am I? I've been teaching an intermediate level course on molecular transmutation. You know, the finer points of transmuting, warnings on what not to do, that sort of thing."

Leela gave him a blank look, but a light went on in the Time Lord's head. The Healer's identity, and the incident with the Master, came back in a flash. With a smile, the Doctor explained to Leela that what she had witnessed was simply the Alterran's ability to change form. She was, to say the least, dubious, but could not dispute the evidence of her own eyes.

As he led the way back to the house, Jason told the Doctor about the Master's trial and his subsequent escape. The Time Lord listened without surprise, not bothering to tell his friend that he had already encountered the Master on Gallifrey just prior to Leela's joining him as a traveling companion. He also chose not to tell him that he had completely forgotten not only his promise to return to Tel-Shye, but also the boy himself. The Doctor felt it would be less confusing to explain his tardiness as an error in the coordinates, since, to Jason, only one year had passed since he departed. For the Time Lord himself, however, several years had passed before he accidentally stumbled across Jason's time line again.

Not everyone was as delighted to see the Doctor as Jason; Aaron being chief among them. The elder Healer was beginning to feel his age, which even among Alterrans was considerable. He had been relieved when he son finally saw reason and gave up waiting for the eccentric Time Lord to return, even though it was obvious Jason was not really happy. The prickly situation with Hendrix did not helping matters, either. Still, Aaron was certain he could smooth things over and somehow rectify the situation. Unfortunately, now that the Doctor had actually returned it would be impossible for him to rectify anything unless he could prevent his strong willed son from leaving.

On the evening Jason was preparing to leave, father and son ended up in a heated battle. Not wanting to be the cause of any family strife, the Doctor decided it might be better for all concerned if he just slipped away quietly. Better for the boy to hate him than his own father, he thought.

He did not quite make it. Just as the Doctor and Leela reached the front door, Jason came thundering down the stairs, his large backpack stuffed with notebooks and reference material on his back, his medical bag on his shoulder.

"Jason, you can't just drop everything and leave," his father protested from the top of the stairs.

"Just watch me!" the young man replied angrily. He came to an abrupt halt when he saw the Time Lord at the door. "Doctor," he said in a small voice. "You're not leaving without me, are you?"

"I'm sorry, Jason, but I must. I can't come between you and your father," the Doctor said softly. "In time, you'll come to regret having left this way. You'll start to hate yourself. And then me."

Jason opened his mouth to reply, but words failed him. He turned helplessly to his father.

After an agonizing pause, Aaron said, "Go. If you stay, the same thing will happen."

The young man smiled affectionately, hugging his father before bidding him good-bye.

"Just get the sand out of your shoes and come home, Jaycie," Aaron admonished quietly. "I'll be waiting for you."

An amused smile came to Jason's face at the name from his childhood. He looked the Doctor in the eye and then went quickly out the door, disappearing into the night.

"I want you to know I am completely against this frivolity," Aaron said firmly from the upper landing. "So you'd best look after him, Time Lord. He's all I have in the world." With that, he vanished from the landing.

The Doctor and Leela exchanged a look of mutual bewilderment before following the young Healer out the door.

"You know something, Leela?" the Doctor sighed. "I've a feeling I'm going to regret this."

He never did.


The next story in this arc -- WHOM THE GODS DESTROY


Author's Note:

Chapters 19& 20 are set after the TV story UNDERWORLD. The character of Jason and this story had already been written before I saw the episode. By a serendipitous twist of fate, the Minyan Captain Jackson is called Jason by the Doctor, who explains to Leela that this was another man on a quest. I must admit to being astonished when I saw this, as it dovetailed in very nicely as being the reason the Doctor suddenly reappeared on Tel-Shye.


The Alliance of Death © Margaret Price 1990 is an original work written for the enjoyment of Doctor Who fans everywhere.

No copyright infringement is intended.

Original series broadcast on the BBC. Format © BBC 1963

Daleks created by Terry Nation.

Doctor Who, Daleks and Tardis are trademarks of the BBC.

The story and all other original characters are © Margaret Price