Rory strode toward the exit of the cave network, his mind cycling through memories still barely able to believe what he was doing. It was a bit disconcerting that once a memory was gone it seemed to instantly disappear but it was still so much better than the alternative that Rory was absolutely giddy with excitement. That might be why he missed so much, like the fact that as he approached the exit, the tunnel grew darker instead of lighter.
In fact, Rory was so caught up in his newly acquired ability that he walked right into the wall.
He sat on the hard floor of the cave for a moment unable to process what had happened.
Since when was there a wall?
He wondered for a moment if he'd been so caught up he'd taken a wrong turn but soon saw that was not the case. The wall before him wasn't the solid rock of a naturally formed cave wall. It was stone and mortar, a constructed wall.
Rory jumped to his feet and touched the wall, half expecting it to disappear as though it were a really cheeky hallucination that when faced with the reality of his actual hand actually touching it would shamefacedly apologize and retreat to whatever corner of his mind had dreamt it up.
But no. The wall stubbornly insisted on continuing its existence.
Rory ran his hands over the surface of the wall, looking for some kind of gap, crack, hinge or door handle perhaps but it was a well-constructed and completely solid wall.
Rory retreated a few steps and regarded the wall for a few more incredulous moments before turning on his heel and trotting back to the Pandorica.
Once back in the large chamber he examined his surroundings very carefully and was completely blown away by what he found. The bed Malin had been in just yesterday, that bed was covered in dust and the bedding was in tatters.
The other furniture also appeared to be in a dreadful state. What on Earth had happened?
Rory paced around a bit from sheer nerves. That's when he noticed the book.
A book didn't belong in this time and certainly didn't belong on his dining table.
He reached for it carefully as if it might jump or, or maybe spark at him the way the sonic screwdrivers had done. But the book just sat there being a book.
After another brief pause Rory picked it up, feeling foolish. Upon picking it up, he realized it wasn't actually a book at all. It resembled one, being rectangular and covered in leather but it was actually a sort of book shaped box. However, when he opened it he found several sheets of paper neatly stacked inside. He gasped because, though the writing was a bit shaky, he recognized it immediately.
"My dear Centurion" Nimue began. "I have left these words in the hopes that you will soon awake. I know not if you were aware of us or if you were, as you seemed to us, insensible. I will assume that you know not what has transpired and will explain ought I know."
Rory would have grinned if he were not so confused. The letter was so logical, so matter of fact, so Nimue. How he had missed her.
"Gardon was sent up to my house and delivered a message to the Abbess that I was desperately needed." She continued. "He would not disclose to her why I was needed and I instantly knew that it must be ought to do with you, else he would have explained. I was able to convince her to let me go though she was quite vexed I also refused to tell what I suspected."
"I arrived to find the village in turmoil over your fate. I was told of Malin's death almost as an afterthought. I am a very old woman and have been a bride of our Lord for so long I believe that most had forgotten how close I came to allowing myself to be with Malin that none thought such news would affect me as it did."
Rory felt the old regret for his son who it seemed had decided to follow in his father's footsteps and wait for the woman he loved.
"I always hoped," The letter continued. "that one day I would hear news in the kingdom that the great wizard Merlin had taken a wife. Any time I got news from the village I hoped to hear how he had found someone. But he never did, did he? I thought he would move on. I wish that he had found happiness with another. He was a very good man and I am so very sorry for your loss, my friend."
Rory's eyes watered with sudden heat and he was forced to pause until he was able to blink away the wetness.
"When I had composed myself, I took a horse up the mountain. I am too old to make that journey afoot and, I confess, I am near too old to make it on horseback. I found you kneeling and though you were warm to the touch you were still as stone. I know not what spell has befallen you but my hope is that you are being given respite from your grief."
"You will, upon reading this letter, find yourself entombed. The people of the village know that there are some who occasion by and ask about the king of the mountain. Some ask about the wizard of the crystal cave and still others even ask about the Lone Centurion. It is feared that some might stumble upon this cave and you and the Pandorica. You must be kept safe my friend until the curse laid upon you can be lifted. So, the wall is our answer."
Rory shook his head. It would not have been an easy thing to seal the entrance and he was touched by their care for him.
"I do not know how long you will stay as you are, my friend. You do not look grieved and I hope that whatever has befallen you, you are at peace and will soon wake to the time when you will be freed from your charge. Live well, dear Uncle. Peace be with you. Nimue."
Rory turned the page but there was nothing more.
So, he had been insensible again. He supposed it made sense. The first time he'd stored away his memories it had taken decades. The second time it had been nearly instantaneous but all that had been required was to open a door that stood ready. This time, he'd had to sort through his memories, dismantle the existing door and create a new, much more complex one. How long had that taken? He wondered.
"Well," He said to no one in particular. "I suppose there's only one way to find out."
He walked purposefully to the walled off entrance and pulled out his gladius. He carefully loosened the mortar around several stones before it occurred to him he could use his laser. After that realization the work went much more quickly. It was not long before he'd loosened the first stone and kicked it free. The sun was out and shot through the opening with a cheerful, almost welcoming energy and Rory smiled.
It took more time than he had thought it would and the sun deserted him before he cleared an opening large enough for himself. He stooped and squeezed his way through into the moonlight. He stood in the open air and drank it in. It wasn't necessary for him to breath and he could stop any time it was problematic. The air in the caves when he'd awoken had been so stale and foul it had seemed to burn his nostrils. It was nice to take a breath again.
He turned and looked back at the cave and, once again, he was surprised.
The wall that he'd faced and partially dismantled had been plain stone and mortar. On this side of the wall it was plastered and painted. Rory's mouth fell open as he saw what was depicted. The Pandorica is what caught his eye first. Around it, there were men assembled and kneeling, their faces reverent. The area to the right of the Pandorica was the part of the wall Rory had dismantled and yet he could still see remnants of a figure. He recognized edges of Roman dress. All that remained of the face was the nose but Rory found it sufficient.
That couldn't be Rory. It had to be Rory but it couldn't be him. There was a halo over his head like, like some kind of religious icon or saint.
"It's you! I knew it was!"
Rory whirled to face the sharp voice and found a pale face peeking at him over a nearby boulder. The boy's eyes grew wide and he jerked as though about to run. Rory thought better of that. In a leap he closed the distance and had a hand full of collar.
The boy screamed wordlessly and seemed at first to not hear Rory's gentle attempts to calm him.
At last Rory shouted in frustration, "Shut UP!" which had the desired effect. The boy's mouth hung open but made no more noise.
"That's better." Rory said. "Sorry, didn't mean to frighten you. If I let go will you stay put?"
The pale face nodded.
"Good." Rory let go of the collar. "Now, we're going to have a chat, if it please you."
Another nod, staring.
"Excellent." Rory sighed. "Just now you said 'It's you' what did you mean? Who is it that you think I am?"
"You-You're the saint who waits." The boy gulped.
Now it was Rory's turn to stare.
"Pardon me, but did you just say SAINT?" He demanded and the boy shrank away from the volume of his voice.
"Sorry. Sorry." Rory said, his voice lowered and he hoped calming. "I didn't mean to startle you again. It's just I'm confused. I'm not a saint."
"But you are!" The boy insisted, regaining quite a bit of confidence. "You are the man in the mountain. The man who never dies. The healer. They say that you can even raise the dead! Many people come to the shrine in the village for healing but this place is a secret." He dropped his voice to a whisper. "I'm not supposed to know about it but I followed old man Rogan up last evening." He smirked. "He suspected naught!"
Rory realized his mouth was open and closed it with a snap. He turned away from the boy's earnest expression but that unfortunately only brought him face to face with what was left of the iconic mural on the sealed cave entrance. He turned from that and began pacing back and forth, shaking his head as though by doing so the world might sort itself back to normalcy. Finally he stopped and declared, "But I'm not even religious!"