Disclaimer: The words are mine, Doctor Who is not.
A/N: I have no excuses for my long hiatus... sorry w1nter, I couldn't wait for this chapter to be beta'd. I had to upload something.
CHAPTER SEVEN: A DARING DUO
Sam covered his head as scrolls clattered down all around him, and only decided it was safe to come out when the floor had stopped rumbling. He popped his head out from underneath the table. "What d'ya think that was?" he asked Brittany. "Earthquake?"
"Arktaurus-quake?" she said absently as she brushed bits of ceiling plaster off her jacket. "We should probably go see what happened." She glanced over to see Sam had returned to rifling through Yuri's stuff. "Or not," she added, and followed suit.
Yuri's hut was about as different from Barkul's as you could get. It was dark and gloomy and filled with smoke emanating from whatever was bubbling away in the cooking pot. Thick fur rugs muffled the sound of their footsteps, while all sorts of windchimes and voodoo charms hung from the ceiling, clattering against each other. Shelves and low tables displayed all sorts of magic paraphernalia – or so Sam assumed – that Yuri would use in her position as the town's wise woman or shaman or whatever she was called here. Priestess?
Sam shrugged, and placed a scroll back on the shelf. When he had imagined visiting an alien planet, he had envisioned teleports, anti-gravity, spaceships and great shining metal cities, not a gloomy old stereotypical priestess' hut full of things you'd expect to find with a tribal shaman out of Earth's history. He picked up an animal skull, sniffing the candle inside. Immediately wrinkling his nose in distaste, he returned the skull to the shelf and moved along to examine a row of jars which appeared to contain various preserved insects.
"Found anything yet?" Brittany asked as she flicked absently through the pages of a mouldering leather-bound tome.
"Other than discovering that someone has a freeze-dried beetle fetish, no," Sam shot back, sliding a book off the shelf as he did so. A flash of white caught his eye and Sam glanced down to see a small scrap of paper flutter to the floor. Must have been tucked underneath that book. Replacing the book in its rightful place of the shelf, he then leant down to pick up the not-so-hidden-any-more paper. "Hey Brittany," he called out, de-crinkling the parchment, "I've found some kind of note."
The other time traveller slammed a tome on the finer points of magical rituals shut with a resounding boom, and looked over at Sam. "Well, what does it say numnuts?"
"Oh well..." He looked down at the piece of paper, his eyes widening. "Hang on, it's in English!"
Brittany sighed. "I suppose the Doctor neglected to mention that detail, did he? Yeah, TARDIS translation circuit. Apparently it gets inside your head and changes alien languages into something you'll understand. You didn't think the Arkans spoke English, did you?"
Sam could feel himself going red – how stupid was he? – as he looked back down at the clue in his hands. He hadn't really thought about the fact that the Arkans would speak a different language to him. Too much television, he supposed. He threw that thought aside and focussed on the note.
"'Behind the dragonflies'," he read, with a frown.
Brittany stared at him blankly. "Is that it?" she said after a considerable silence. "Dragonflies?"
"Yup." Sam handed her the note. "That's it." He turned around to look at the shelves lining the wars. "Dragonflies, dragonflies ... there!" His hands closed around a jar of preserved dragonflies, and he carefully shifted it aside.
"I recognise this handwriting," Brittany pointed out as Sam retrieved a bundle of cloth from its hiding place. "We never did ask the Doctor where he went on that walk of his last night." She chuckled quietly to herself. "That man is just too curious for his own good."
Sam replaced the dragonfly-filled jar, and carefully unwrapped the bundle of cloth. As he peeled the last piece of fabric off, a golden-green glow filled the room. Sitting in the bundle of cloth in Sam's hands was a glass orb; a strange pulsing cloud of yellow-emerald light floated in the centre of the ball, and Brittany reached out a hand to touch it. Sam, however, pushed her hand away.
"Best not," he said, covering the orb in the layer of cloth once again. "Don't want to draw any unwanted attention."
"You know, like a Palantír? Lord of the Rings?" Seeing her still blank look, Sam sighed. "Oh, I weep for the future of humanity. That's one of the classics." Shaking his head, he helped Brittany secure the orb in her backpack. "So I'm guessing that whatever that orb is, it doesn't belong on Arktaurus, right?"
"Right," she confirmed as they made their way to the door. "Yuri may not be as Arkan as she seems." They stepped outside, and immediately froze.
"Oh," Brittany said, pretty much summing it all up.
Sam frowned deeply. "I don't know about you, but that jungle wasn't there last time I looked."
The Doctor rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding the creature's arm as it ploughed a furrow into the ground, sending clods of earth showering in all directions. The Time Lord quickly scrambled to his feet, bracing himself for another attack. Thankfully, the creature was quickly distracted by the fact that a spear had appeared in its chest, courtesy of one very gutsy Arkan. The creature screeched in pain as orange blood dripped down its leathery skin, and jerked its head forward in an attempt to swallow its assailant whole. It was met with failure however, and its head came up with a mouthful of dirt.
The Doctor took a deep breath and ran at the beast, charging straight between its front pair of legs. He ducked underneath an attack that was intended for one of the Arkan warriors, and only narrowly avoided a flailing limb that would have been the death of him had he not the good sense to dodge out of the way. Landing heavily with a faceful of dirt, he immediately began scrabbling around in the undergrowth for his sonic screwdriver. Above him, the creature was constantly shifting its weight, bringing its leathery belly closer to the ground. The Doctor didn't have time to worry about that right now, because he'd just spotted a glint of silvery metal down some kind of burrow. Without even a moment's thought, he plunged his left arm down the hole, fingers closing triumphantly around his prize. He quickly retrieved his arm, sonic and all, but did a surprised double take when he noticed that there also appeared to be a snake attached to his arm.
One of the creature's legs slammed down next to him, and the Doctor decided he didn't have the time to calmly identify the reptile and convince it to remove its coils from his wrist, so he used his right hand to tuck his sonic screwdriver away in his pocket before making a rapid run for the trees. No sense waiting around near that creature. He slowed once he believed he had reached a safe distance, and started to struggle with the stubborn snake attached to his arm. The animal simply refused to budge, and no amount of yanking was going to convince it otherwise.
Another hand, this one furred, appeared to join in with the Doctor's efforts, and their combined strength was enough to send the snake flying back into the undergrowth.
"Going somewhere, Doctor?" Barkul asked, arms now folded.
"Can't get rid of you that easily, can I?" the Doctor sighed. "Alright, come on then. Allons y."