A/N: Okay, why break the habit of a lifetime? I always post the next episode practically the day after I finished the last, so... here we go lol! ALL THE CREDIT for this story goes to ScreamsOnScreen, who is not only a freakin' awesome reviewer, but she was lurverly enough to let me use a damned good idea of hers. I think it's brilliant anyway :p It's probably going to be longer than the others, perhaps about 16 - 17 chapters or so, but normally when I plan then out they end up being longer... so it could be anywhere up to 20 chapters. I don't know why I'm rambling so much... so I'll stop. Read! Review! Enjoy! xx
Oh yeah, and before I'm sued, the riddle used in this chapter belongs to the Grimm Brothers. Not me :p
Riddle Me This
The Doctor hauled the doors of the TARDIS open with a broad grin. He took in a deep breath through his nostrils, and then let it out again with an 'Ahh'. Behind him, Ashley poked her head out from beneath his arm. She looked around with wide excited eyes, not knowing what to expect. She couldn't help but be slightly disappointed by what she did see.
The Doctor hopped out onto the dewy green grass, still grinning. He whirled around to Ashley, arms outstretched. 'Well? What do you think?'
Ashley stepped out, closing the door behind her. The first thing she noticed was the chill in the air, and she automatically wrapped her arms around herself. She glanced around, not wanting to look disappointed but unable to help it. 'We're on the top of a mountain… or something.' She replied.
The Doctor nodded. 'Of course we are! You get the best views from mountains.'
'You don't want to re-enact The Hills Are Alive, do you?'
The Doctor shrugged. 'Well I've always liked Julie Andrews…'
Ashley cocked an eyebrow at him and looked around. She could see nothing but a brilliantly blue sky above them, littered with fluffy cotton-wool clouds. She couldn't see over the edge of the mountain at the landscape below, but something told her that it probably matched the soft natural feel of the top of the mountain. The grass was a vibrant green and seemed like it had just been neatly mowed. Brilliant and colourful flowers poked up in neat rows, not a single weed amongst them. Just a little behind the Tardis stood a large tree with an elaborately knotted trunk and full of bright green leaves. There wasn't a fault to be seen anywhere, but also nothing of interest if you weren't an avid gardener.
'Where are we then?' she asked.
The Doctor grinned, his eyes sparkling. She couldn't help but smile back at him. She shouldn't doubt him. If he brought her here, it was because it was going to knock her for six. She expected a steady stream of information about some distant planet and its occupants in response, but what she didn't expect was what he said to her.
'Three woman were transformed into flowers, which stood in a field,' the Doctor told her, much to her bewilderment. 'However, one of them was allowed to be in her own house at night. One time when day was approaching, and she would have to go back to her companions in the field and become a flower again, she said to her husband, "If you will come this morning and pick me, I shall be set free and stay with you from then on". And this is what happened.'
Ashley blinked at him. 'Did someone whack you over the head again or something?' she asked.
The Doctor held up a finger, smiling. 'Now the question is, how did her husband recognise her, for the flowers were exactly alike, and without any difference?'
Ashley continued to stare at him, and then realised that he was expecting her to answer. She thought for a moment. 'Um… maybe she… uh… Maybe the husband didn't go to pick her because all she did was nag and he was happier without her, so it didn't matter?'
The Doctor's shoulders slumped and his face scrunched up. 'Oh Ashley! You've never heard that before? Seriously?'
She shrugged her shoulders at him and made an indifferent sound.
Rolling his eyes, the Doctor sighed. 'While she was in her house during the night and not in the field, the dew did not fall on her as it did on the other two, and by this her husband recognised her.'
Ashley raised an eyebrow. 'That's supposed to be clever is it? And that's got what to do with the price of cheese?'
'Cheese?' the Doctor screwed up his face even more.
Ashley rolled her eyes. 'It's a saying.'
'You've never heard Rätselmärchen? A Riddling Tale?'
'Well I think it's pretty clear that I haven't so can you stop acting so baffled by my moronic ignorance and tell me what it's got to do with standing on top of a mountain?'
'You've heard of the Brothers Grimm at least, right?'
'Oh yeah!' Ashley beamed, her confusion briefly passing. 'With uh… Matt Damon and Heath Ledger?'
The Doctor stared at her and said nothing. Her smile faded and she looked away innocently, pushing her hands in her pockets.
'Anyway,' he said finally, choosing to ignore her last statement. 'You're aware of the Grimm fairytales and that's all you need to know really.'
Ashley laughed. 'Let me guess, we've landed on the planet that was the basis for the Grimm fairytales.'
The Doctor clicked his fingers and pointed at her with both hands. 'Got it in one.'
She looked at him, and then laughed. 'Right. Yeah sure. Because that makes sense.'
'Come here my little sceptical companion,' he beamed, holding an arm out to her. 'And see for yourself.'
Ashley looked at him unsurely, and then moved forward. The Doctor wrapped his arm around her shoulders and led her towards the edge of the mountain. As they got closer, more of the vast landscape came into view. And the more she saw, the more her jaw dropped.
'Welcome to Fanallasoratia. The real life fantasy world.' The Doctor announced.
The landscape seemed to stretch on forever. Most of it was elaborate forest, with twisting trees and perfect green leaves. A smooth grey tower poked out from amongst the trees. Beyond that there was, what looked like, a town. It was hard to make out the details, but there was a tall steeple that twisted towards the sky. It looked like something out of a Tim Burton movie and looked peculiar against the vibrancy of the surrounding forest.
'How…' Ashley blinked. 'But if… How…?'
The Doctor squeezed her shoulders. 'Fanallasoratia is quite popular with the tourists. I mean, why wouldn't it be? They've got everything here. They get most of their income from flogging potions and the like. Their most popular one is the love potion, believe it or not. But really it's just a big con. All it does it heighten the potency of your pheromones. Eat enough goats cheese and it'll have the exact same effect. Tastes about the same too…'
Ashley shot him a bewildered glance, but he just carried on talking, caught up in his tour guide routine.
'Anyway,' he went on, animatedly. 'There's loads of attractions. Well… I say attractions but they're just the norm around here. It's like when you see tourists in your hometown taking photos of the shop you go to every morning. It's just weird. Although I don't think your hometown has talking trees.'
'Oh my god, what?' Ashley cried.
'Now settle down, we've got time to see everything.' The Doctor assured her. 'We should really go and see the gingerbread house. The old woman who lives there is lovely, really. Although there was that whole carry-on with Hansel and Gretal which was totally blown out of proportion… I mean you wouldn't be best pleased either if you got up one morning to find two fat kids chewing through one of the main support beams of your house. Oh, and we need to go and see Rapunzel. I promised I'd go back to see her after…' He caught himself and noticed Ashley's curious stare. He cleared his throat. 'Um… it's not important.'
He turned and headed back towards the TARDIS. Ashley continued to look across the vast landscape for a moment, before hurrying after him.
'But this stuff is all made up stories!' she insisted. 'By those Grimm brothers. How can it all be here, on another planet?'
'Some moronic tourist from Clom left a tour guide book in a tavern in Germany. Someone had done the same thing a few centuries earlier but the stories got a bit scattered. Then the Grimm brothers got their hands on it, and the rest it history.'
Ashley blinked. 'So all those tales are true then? Like… Sleeping Beauty? And Beauty and the Beast?'
'Oh yeah,' the Doctor nodded. 'Princess Aurora does part time work on a stall selling replicas of her castle. Nice girl. Bit dim. The Beast and Belle have four kids now.'
Ashley continued to stare at him slack jawed. He pushed open the door of the TARDIS.
'Come on,' he grinned. 'Hop inside. I'll take us down so we don't have to risk falling to our death while climbing down this mountain, eh?'
Ashley blinked, and then moved past him without a word.
'Oh! And we have to go and see Rumpelstiltskin,' the Doctor added as he pulled the door shut. 'He still owes me a fiver.'