The narrow crevice in the ruined east wall of castle Dagonmourn was not easy to find, but the Doctor and his companions had a stroke of luck when the first rays of the morning sun hit the crumbling pile of rubble in front of the entrance just at the right angle. It was Gellard who spotted it first, and after they all had struggled through and came out at the other side in the inner courtyard, the Doctor only needed a second to pick up the Master's scent. "That way!" He yelled, sprinting ahead from the others into the direction of the covered parapet walk. Sir Titanis and Gellard followed swiftly, but Donna had difficulty keeping up with the men. Shocked as she was that they seemed to have stumbled on a boneyard.
"They're dead Donna!" The Doctor yelled back at her, his patience running thin. "They can't hurt you and you won't hurt them. So come on! What are you waiting for? Keep up!"
"Is it just me, or was that the Master talking?" Donna complained as she skipped over as many skeletons as she possible could. She almost bumped into the Gellard's back when the Doctor suddenly stopped in front of the entrance of a narrow passageway that was guarded by two giant statues.
"Hang on." She muttered, sniffing the cold damp air that rose up from the catacombs below. "That's that smell I've been telling you about. The Master must have gone down here."
The Doctor took out his sonic screwdriver and fiddled with it till a strong blue light started to glow at the top end.
"Oh that is a big light." Donna muttered nervously. "Please tell me that's just for watching our steps and not to keep away anything nasty like flesh-eating shadows…"
"The Vashta Nerada? Not this time." He shone the beam into the entrance, revealing a winding staircase. "But there is something down there that is very hungry indeed." And with that said, he took the first step down the narrow stairs. The others followed him after a short moment of hesitation, uncertain of what they would find lurking in the dark.
"That scent is getting stronger. And it's getting humid, and hot…like in some kind of tropical rainforest…"
Donna made sure that she kept her eyes on the slippery steps in front of her as they descended. In the blue glow of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver turned torchlight, she could see a whole family of centipedes the size of German sausages crawl down the damp walls and disappear underneath the thick layers of dead leaves that seemed to cover every surface. No wonder that this place was crawling with bugs. There were bits of decomposing plant material everywhere.
She didn't like creepy crawlies even on her best days, but these were large enough to give her nightmares.
"How does this plant stuff get here?" Donna asked. "It's not like it can be blown down here by the wind. We're too far down from the entrance."
"It grows here." The Doctor answered, keeping on eye on the others. "That scent you picked up via the Master's mind link is from the flowers of the Deadly Nightshade, a rare carnivorous plant that likes to catch its prey using harpoon like air roots before it injects it victim full of poison and digestive juices. It's indigenous to Saltsea and it's extremely rare."
"Okay…just for my peace of mind, when you say carnivorous, do you mean snacking on flies, beetles, and creepy large centipedes…those sort of things?"
"No…not really…More like dogs and cats, cows and horses. It's a big plant with a big appetite. They are really pretty though." The Doctor mused. "They have these blue stems and pink fluorescent leaves, and the flowers pulse with different shades of purple while the peddles are sort of fleshy and wave like the tentacles of sea-lilies."
"If you put it that way, it actually sounds fun to walk into a cheery bunch of them. Shame that we get turned into liquid plant fertilizer though." Donna joked to hide her nervousness.
"Don't worry. They can only grow in the dark. Harsh lights will kill them. That's why we need this." He waved the blue light in front of Donna's face and winked. "Keeps them at a safe distance and informs them politely that we are not lunch."
As they descended further down into the catacombs, the first signs of the darkness loving plants made way to a underground jungle that was thick and lush. As soon as the Doctor and his companions approached some of the hungry branches lashed out for them only to shrivel away instantly when they touched the dim blue glow of the sonic screwdriver.
"Doctor…are you sure this is enough to keep them away from us." Gellard asked, eying anxiously at a particularly large flower that unfurled very close to him and pulsed with alluring green and yellow pedals. The chemical orange smell was overwhelming, and the young knight was swaying lightly on his feet.
"Don't get too close." The Doctor pulled him away from the flower. "The scent of the flowers contains a strong neurotoxin that makes you hallucinate. Combine that with a claustrophobic hothouse full of man-eating flowers and you get the perfect setting for a freak-accident. Stay in the light, and be careful."
They finally reached the bottom of the staircase. The moment Donna set foot on the forest grounds she was struck with amazement. They were in a huge subterranean space where the alien-looking plants grew as tall as trees, creating the illusion of a forest. Tree-like trunks that emitted a soft blue glow rose up straight into a canopy of rustling pink leaves, while the forest floor was covered with tiny flowers in the most dazzling colors that glistened like a bed of stardust between the carpet dead leaves.
"You're right. They are beautiful." Donna whispered.
"My forefathers used to tell us about the frozen lands that are far up in the north beyond the cursed lands of Dagonmourn." Ser Titanis muttered. "Between the barren fields of ice and snow these purple forests can be found, consisting entirely out of Nightshades. This must be how they look like."
"How do these plants get here?" Gellard asked, gazing round in wonderment, but careful where to put his next step.
"Someone must have brought them down as seeds. One of the Lord Dagonmourn's warriors who have ventured up north for exploration perhaps." The Doctor muttered, carefully making his way through the thick vegetation. He was using the beam of light from his sonic to clear the path. "Who knows…Maybe they've been dropped here deliberately to germinate and grow inside the tomb. After all, after the human guardians are gone, these plants are the only ones left to protect this place from intruders."
The Doctor froze when he heard Donna utter a scream behind him. "What? What is it?" He yelled and turned back to check on her.
"Doctor…look!" Donna stared with a look of pure horror at the broken figure hanging from the vines. The Doctor let the beam shine over her gruesome find and the dim light of the sonic revealed the face of the old man that had attacked him in the woods. His arms had been cut off and were replaced by the branches of the Nightshade, whose hungry blue tentacles were tunneling into the bloody stumps of his what was left of his shoulders into his torso. Donna could hardly imagine the horrible agony the poor man must be in. As soon as the light fell on the Nightshade, the branches and the roots shriveled into dry sinewy twigs dropped the mutilated body of their victim on the forest floor.
"Who is this?" Gellard asked, gazing down with revulsion and pity. "And who did this to him?"
The Doctor was too shocked to answer him, but the old man was still conscious and struggled to speak.
"Doctor…" He whispered, his voice was weak, contorted in pain. "Doctor…is that you?"
"Yes. I am here." His hearts felt a pang of grim hopelessness and his shoulders sagged as the realization sank in. He came closer to him. "It was the Master, wasn't it?" His voice caught in his throat.
"The Nightmare Child Doctor." The dying man responded. "Beware of him. He will destroy you. He will destroy us all."
"The Master did this?" Donna whispered in disbelief.
"That man is the devil incarnated!" Ser Titanis cried out in outrage. "Only a monster without a soul would have done this to an innocent soul!"
A flash of red light disappeared behind a swaying curtain of purple leaves. The Doctor looked over at Gellard. "No!" He shouted. Panic gripped his voice. "Don't go after him!" But the young man had already disappeared into the thick foliage with his sword ready in his hand. The Doctor threw his sonic at Donna, who caught it clumsily. "Keep this with you and stay here! Don't let the plants come anywhere near you. I am going after him!"
"Come out you coward! Come out and fight me!" Gellard yelled out, slashing through the thick undergrowth, his gaze fixed on finding the source of the red light, but now it seemed as if this entire part of the Nightshade forest was bathing in a dim red glow. As he kept searching, a hand grabbed him by his shoulder and yanked him back. He turned and instinctively raised his sword to strike, only to stop at the very last moment when he realized that it was the Doctor.
"What are you doing? Didn't I tell you that you should stay in the light!"
"I saw him Doctor. I saw him! That was the Master!" Gellard rambled, convinced of his own conclusions. "He did this. He murdered Olaf and Jenkin!"
"Gellard, calm down! You're upset because of what you saw."
"But it must be him! Didn't you see what he did to that poor man? We can't let him get away with this, we just can't!"
The Doctor's suddenly broke his gaze and glanced over Gellard's shoulder. His face turned grim.
"Don't you dare to hurt that boy." He warned him in a solemn voice.
There was a red dot that danced on Gellard's chest, right at the spot where his heart should be.
"What is this?" Gellard's nerves finally snapped when the leaves suddenly parted and a shadow stepped forward. Panicking, he swung his sword, but before the blade could strike his opponent down, a red laserbeam blasted his weapon out of his hand. The Doctor immediately ran forward to defend him.
"Oh please…." The Master rolled his eyes. "That runt threatened to kill me. What do you want me to do?" He circled the unarmed knight, keeping a steady aim on his target. "Typical of you to always put your pets first."
"Don't you harm him! Haven't you done enough already?"
"You mean that mad old git? That was just a little experiment. I had a suspicion that he might be immortal, like me. He certainly looks as ancient and ruined as this dilapidated place. I was just wondering if he had the same regenerative capacity. So…I to put it to the test…what?" He laughed. "Oh Don't tell me you're shocked and disappointed."
"You're sick." Embittered, the Doctor shook his head. "What you've done to him was unforgivable."
The Master pulled an innocent face in mockery. "If that's so, isn't it then not about time that you do exactly that, stop forgiving me? Surely, after all that I have done you must be running out of excuses by now…"
"Is it true? Did you kill Olaf and Jenkin?" The Doctor felt his hearts turn to stone as he said it.
"Those two idiots from the Midwall? Who knows? Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. What would you like to hear Doctor?"
He smiled at him. It was the sinister grin of a cat playing with a dead mouse. "Oh…you want the truth…hmmm let me see…The truth is that you should have abandoned the hope to cure me a long time ago, but you were too stupid and too stubborn to do so. The truth is that after all this time, I am still cold, calculative and ruthless and capable of coldblooded murder in order to get what I want. You may try to cage a lion Doctor, but it will still have its teeth and claws."
The Doctor was heartbroken. "Master, why? Why are you doing this? Tell me, what it is…what do you want?"
"Isn't it obvious then?" He hissed, and came closer to him, his dark eyes shining with a deranged type of anger. "I want my revenge."
"We should go after the Doctor. They could be in danger." Ser Titanis remarked, losing his patience.
"We can't just leave." Donna stared at the mutilated wildman. "If we take the light away the plants will get him."
"Well we must do something! I'm not going to lose another one of my men!"
"The Doctor can handle this. We have to stay here just like he told us to."
"Don…Donna…" The old man's breath stalled for a moment, then he called her again. Donna approached him cautiously.
"Yes…I am here. Don't give up just yet. We're here now. The Doctor is here. He can help you."
"Noble lady, you were once kind to me. I will remember it. I shall repay your kindness next time we meet…You must remember me too."
Donna assumed that the poor man had suffered so much that he had lost his wits, so she humored him and played along.
"Yes. Yes I will." She forced herself to smile. "Now hush. Don't tire yourself with talking."
"No, I must speak now. I have only very little time left…" He swallowed and gazed at her with hooded, blood-shot eyes. "I couldn't stop him."
"It wasn't your fault."
"Oh but it was. I am the guardian of the tomb. One of the last. Now there is nothing…nothing left to stop him from returning…The Nightmare Child…his thirst for revenge blinds him…he will open Pandora's box and bring destruction to us all. The whole of creation shall suffer and be cast into eternal darkness…Time…shall be no more…" His words choked as a bubbling mass of crimson rose up his throat. "No more time…no more past and future…the fabric of reality unraveling…too late…far too late." He mumbled, his voice weakening.
Raw fear gripped her heart. "Why do you tell me this?"
"You Donna Noble…you are so very important…so very precious to him…so very precious to us all…you are the last to emerge from Pandora's box. Remember me Noble lady, for we shall meet again…" He gasped for air and coughed out a spray of blood.
"What do you mean?" Donna's face clouded with confusion. "I am nothing special. Don't say that. Please…hold on…" She turned around in desperation. "Doctor! Doctor, we need you! Come back!"
"Don't…Don't call for him…Leave me…" The old man gasped.
"We can't just let you die."
"My body is broken. There's nothing you can do…Let me go…Leave me in the dark. Let the plants come for me…Please…"
Donna was reluctant, but the dying man's persistence and the dreadful suffering he was in forced her to make the decision. So she stepped away from him. As soon as the protective blue light of the sonic retreated, the branches of the Deadly Nightshade crawled out of the dark and inched up towards its victim. The purple leaves crept up over his legs and his torso, all the way up to his face. When they reached his mouth and nostrils and started to smother him, she finally turned away.
"Lady Noble?" Ser Titanis asked.
Donna crossed over to the other side. "Don't." She said, unable to look him in the eyes and feeling sick to the very core of her soul. All she wanted to do is find the Doctor and get the hell out of this horrible nightmare. She pointed the sonic at the patch of vegetation in the direction where the Doctor and Gellard had disappeared. As soon as the blue beam hit the foliage, the plants started to retreat, clearing a path for them to go through.
"Master, listen to me. This has to stop." The Doctor pleaded desperately. "If you go on like this…"
"Like what?" The Master grinned and pulled Gellard up to him while he stuck the laser screwdriver under his chin. "I don't know what you are fussing about. Everything is going according to my plans. Are you afraid of losing Doctor?"
"No! Don't! Don't hurt him."
"Then fuck off!" he grinned. "Oh come on, you know how this goes." He gave him a mischievous wink while he backed away from the Doctor with his hostage held in front of him as a living shield.
"Stop it! This is not a bloody game!"
"Oh it is…and it is an enjoyable one…till someone dies…Stop following me Doctor, and you may get your pawn back." The plants shifted aside and the Master disappeared with the young knight behind a swaying screen of deadly vegetation. The Doctor rushed after him, but without his sonic screwdriver, he was quickly left in the dark. The plants seized this opportunity and began to attack him, hungry branches shooting out over the forest floor to grab onto his ankles. He jumped away just in time to avoid being caught by a green tentacle-like root covered in nasty spikes. Eager to feed, the root kept following him, while a tangle of branches grabbed him from behind, and wrapping around his torso greedily with the strength of a boa constrictor trying to kill his next meal.
Donna's panicky voice rang in his ears as the deadly grip of branches diminished, and the blood that had been stuck in head flowed down again into his lower body. He gratefully took a lung full of air as the blue light of the sonic drove the monster plants back into darkness, and he was released from the tentacles.
"Where is Gellard?" Ser Titanis yelled.
"The Master took him. That stupid-stubborn idiot!" The Doctor replied with a raspy voice as the Donna helped him back up on his feet. "No sorry, I didn't mean your knight." He apologized to ser Titanis. "Why are you here? I told you to stay with the old man."
"Doctor…he's gone…" Donna felt a pang of guilt strangle her heart. "I tried. I am sorry, I really tried."
"It's not her fault Doctor." Ser Titanis tried. "The old man gave up on himself, and lady Noble was really concerned about your safety."
The Doctor was speechless. The Master was right. He was losing. All around him, people were dying. Good people, dropping dead like flies in the heat, and he, the Doctor, the man who had promised them that everything was going to be all right, that he could fix everything, could do nothing to save them. If this was also true for the Master…
He wiped the sweat from his face, forcing himself out of is inert state. "We have to go after them. Donna, give me the sonic."
A sound echoed through the dark jungle. It was a mournful sound. A great sad bellowing, like that of a horde of thousand dying souls.
"What's that?" Gellard could hardly keep up with the Master as they stumbled aimless through the walls of leaves and branches with only the dim red glow of laserscrewdriver for protection. "It sounds like someone is crying…like someone is trapped."
The Master stopped abruptly. To him, the eerie disturbances in the dark did not sound like human cries.
"Oh…that's horrible!" Gellard whispered fearfully. "What's going on? Why are they weeping like that?"
The Master ignored him, and jerked the knight by his collar and pushed him into the direction of that most terrifying noise.
"What are you doing? Have you gone mad? Don't go to where it comes from!"
"Shut up and keep walking." The Master barked, keeping the tip of the sonic aimed at the back of the Gellard's neck.
"Those hideous cries…that must be the beast…the beast of Dagon's tomb. Why are you going there? We must flee away from him!"
"That's not the beast." The Master spat. "There are no real monsters in Dagonmourn. They are just made up fairy tales to keep trespassers out."
"But then…what's that horrible sound?"
The gaze that the Master returned to him was blank, almost soulless. "That my boy, is the song of the most precious thing in the whole of creation…and it's calling me home."
In the heart of the labyrinth, the drapes of Nigthshade reluctantly parted its foliage to reveal a hidden chamber. A vast underground area with a high concave ceiling, it was surrounded by damp walls that threatened to collapse with age. However, the stone structures were remarkably free of the ever-advancing plant army of roots and creepers. Carved in the rocks were deep niches, each harboring a statue of those who were once mighty and powerful, but now forgotten, their names and stone faces eaten away by time till nothing remained to remind of their greatness. But the Master still knew who they are. A long time ago, he had fought on their side in the great time war. If they could see him now, one of the last of their bloodline, and knew what he had in mind, they would probably all crawl out from their graves and try to drag him down into the cold ground with them.
"Where are we?" Gellard muttered, his most base instincts were kicking in and he noticed anxiously the object at the far end the chamber, a large golden disk that reflected an eerie orange glow in the light of the laser screwdriver. The howls that came from the other end drove him almost mad with fear.
"This the heart of the Dagontomb." The Master eyes were also fixed on the golden disk, but his expression was one of almost religious devotion and fanatic excitement. "The very sacred place that your ancestors have paid with their lives to protect." He spread out his arms and glanced up at the ceiling and shut his eyes, almost like in a trance. "Look around you. Can you not sense the history, the tremendous power that resides within these walls, so very primal and destructive…" He breathed in deeply. "Oh it's absolutely intoxicating…"
"What do you want?" Gellard finally dared to ask. "Why are we here?"
"I've been here before." The Master mused. "In another time, in another life. My people sent me here to collect what was rightfully ours. I battled with countless armies, and had endured so many hardships, just to get here."
"You murdered thousands, innocent Saltmen and women, you've massacred them!"
"To save millions!" The Master angrily justified himself. "Well…at least that was the initial plan of my so-called superiors. Send out the Nightmare Child to collect the ultimate weapon to end the War of all Wars. It was the last and only solution that was left to them to save themselves and the rest of the universe from total annihilation. The Oracle had spoken her prophecies, I was their only hope." A grievous smile crossed his lips. "I think they could not have made a worse choice. You can hardly call me reliable."
"What's going on?" Gellard cried out. "Why is it moving like that?"
"She stirs because she is awakening." The Master gazed at the disk with a sense of deep longing. The golden surface stirred calmly in response like a thick gelatinous liquid. He approached the disk eagerly, forcing the poor terrified knight to come along with him. "She recognizes me." The Master whispered. "She knows that I am here."
"What? Who?" Gellard muttered, feeling the hot tip of the laser screwdriver burn under his chin. "What is that thing?"
"It is not a thing! Don't you dare to call her that! You're nothing compared to her magnificence." He was delirious and ecstatic, drunk on this one moment of true bliss that had been so very rare in his long and tired existence. He stopped in front of the disk, and reached out his hand to touch the restless liquid.
"No!" Gellard pleaded, realizing now where they were heading. "No! Don't take me through there. Not with those horrible voices inside. Can't you hear them? They are calling from behind! Don't go in there, please!"
But the Master could not hear it. His ears were deaf to the haunting cries that were driving Gellard to desperation. To him, there were only the drums…calling out to him through the grey mist of his past and future. The drums that had cast him down into the lowest and darkest pits of hell. The very drums that had robbed him from his sanity and driven him to madness, brutality and murder.
Oh how he welcome them like old friends.
He placed his hand flat on the golden surface, and almost immediately burnt the skin of his palm. It didn't matter. He hardly noticed the scorching pain.
"My beloved Tardis." He whispered as he felt the rigid stone surface turn soft and liquid as his hand pass through the golden surface like it was but a screen of water. He closed his eyes, images of his long dead father rushed through his mind.
"My most faithful companion. How long have you waited? At last, your master has returned. Now let me in and reclaim that what is rightfully mine."
Donna was starting to seriously lag behind. "Doctor." She shouted and stopped and clutched her head. "Doctor!"
The Doctor rushed back to her, making sure to keep the plants at bay with the light of the sonic. "What? What is it?"
"He's there. He's inside." She was pressed her eyes shut to help her focus on the Doctor's face, but the dark chamber kept reappearing in her vision. "The Master has reached the tomb. He's standing right before the golden portal…Doctor, it's happening all over again…"
A dark look of determination crossed the Doctor's face.
"No." He muttered, shaking his head. He wheeled around and rushed through the forest. "NO!"
"Do you realize that we all have been betrayed?" The Master told him, without taking his eyes from his price. As soon as the mad Timelord had let go of him, Gellard had scrambled away as far as he could possibly get from the disk with the mad swirling vortex inside, and was now cowering in a corner of the chamber with his back scraping against the stones. He would have fled if the portal through which they've entered had not mysteriously disappeared.
"What do you mean? H-how are we betrayed?"
"Your myths and stories about what happened, of what lies hidden here in the dark earth of the Hills of Sorrow. Your race's raison d'etre…The whole history of the Timelords, even my own bloody existence…it's all based on a big revolting lie." He paused, lost in the memories of those blood-drenched days of death and madness.
"Even though I was the one who was chosen to return him to the Timelords, the elders were reluctant to reveal the truth to me. I had to find out for myself." He finally turned and gazed at Gellard's angst ridden face. "The Gods you worship are the creators of my people. The Saltgod and Dagon are the Alpha and Omega of the Timelord race. But unlike what was propagated in the myths, it was not Dagon the creator who was the villain of the piece, but the Saltgod himself whose hunger for power corrupted him beyond redemption. It was Alpha, also know as Rassilon, who caused Omega's downfall and had entombed his essence in the Distorted Eye of Harmony after destroying his physical form. It was him, our most revered lord president of Gallifrey, who had betrayed his own brother. And yet, for generations, the children of Gallifrey were taught otherwise." He gazed into the darkness and let it slowly consume him. "The corruption of history by the conqueror turned the conquered into the monster of the night, while lies turned a blood-thirsty murderer in our savior, and transformed a god into a demon. The same lies brought me back, gave me a second change to redeem myself." A sarcastic smile crossed his lips.
"The Timelords have only resurrected me because they believed that I was the only one who was cunning and ruthless enough to release Omega from his cold prison between dimensions. They have used me as like chess-master would use a pawn. I don't like to played and manipulated. So I decided to take matters into my own hands..."
A chill immediately ran down her spine the moment the purple vegetation parted to reveal the hidden chamber. "Oh my God." She muttered, entering the huge cavernous space cautiously. "This is it. This is the place that I've seen inside the Master's head. We're actually here! But…where the heck is the Master?" She looked around, getting more confused and fearful by the minute. "He was just here. I saw him. He was marching Gellard down to that big golden disk." She was getting the heebee-jeebees just by looking at it, and was immediately alarmed when the Doctor walked straight up to iy. "What are you doing? No! Don't go touch it!"
"It's not what you think it is." He replied, inspecting it closely.
"What in the great Saltgod's name is happening?" Ser Titanis asked. "Why does lady Noble keep insisting that the Master and Gellard are here?"
"Because she's right. They still are." The Doctor whirred the sonic over the surface of the golden surface, causing coarse ripples to appear. He turned to Donna. "This is not the portal that you've seen in the Master's memories. It's fake, a chameleon's cloak."
"But…how can they still be here?" Ser Titanis asked, confusion quickly turned into anger. "This chamber is clearly empty. Don't jest with the life of one of my men Doctor, there's absolutely no time!"
"A fake?" Donna repeated. "A fake what?"
"It's the Tardis." The Doctor explained hastily. "Well, not the Tardis, I mean not my Tardis…a Tardis…possibly, and very probably the Master's Tardis."
"The Master has his own Tardis?" Donna blurted out.
"Oh that's not so strange. Every Timelord was supposed to have his own Tardis. They were grown for every child of Galifrey from the moment they were born, but this one is from lord Oakdown, the Master's father. I recognize the signature. The Master stole it from him when he fled Gallifrey." The Doctor took a few steps back and cupped his hands around his mouth. "Master!" He yelled. "Master! It's me! Open the door!"
"If this is a Tardis, then why does it not look like a police box?"
"The Tardis only looks like a police box because the cloak circuits were broken and I really didn't felt like fixing them." The Doctor replied hurriedly. "Anyway, the chameleon circuit in the Master's Tardis is still operational, which means it can disguise itself into almost anything to blend into the surroundings. It's currently imitating the tomb chamber. The Master is still here, but inside the Tardis, behind that disk." He took a few steps back. "Master! Do you hear me? Open the door and let us in!"
How long had it been? The Doctor wondered. Hundreds, thousands of years? And still the Tardis recognized him, the long-time symbiotic link remained unbroken. She still listened to the Master as if he had abandoned her only yesterday.
"Step aside! Let me handle this!" Ser Titanis cried out and came charging at the portal with his sword raised. Just when he was but two steps away from the disk and was about to strike his target, a violent wave rippled over the golden surface and an invisible force punched him hard in the chest. He was flung for meters across the chamber before he landed on his backside.
"It's no use. You can't force it open. He has locked it from the inside." The Doctor explained with a growing panic in his voice. "Master! Open up! Please!"
"He can't hear you." Donna muttered, contractions of pain flashed through her head. "He can't hear anything…because…oh…that noise…that horrible noise." She covered her ears and sunk through her knees. A sudden surge of paralyzing pain shot through her like a red hot spear. She was hardly aware that the Doctor came to her aid.
"Donna, what's wrong?"
"There are drums…" Donna cried. "Drums pounding inside my head! Make it stop Doctor! Please! Make it stop!"
The drums were calling to him. Step by step he moved closer to the corrupted eye of harmony that was hidden inside his Tardis. The whole underground tomb was enclosed by the strong structures of the time craft as if swallowed whole by a vast hungry maul. It had been the only way to stabilize the portal after it had been ripped apart. Without the powerful singularity core of the Master's Tardis supplying the huons of energy to contain it, the raw violent force streaming out of the breach in the fabric of reality would have destroyed the entire universe.
"The Timelord council had ordered me to sacrifice the eye of harmony of my own living Tardis to transport what was left of Omega's essence back to Gallifrey." The Master continued to explain, the recollections of his past tasted like ashes in his mouth. "There they would find a way to harvest and use this boundless source to battle the Dalek forces. You should have seen them, they were so bloody sure of themselves. If only I would succeed, victory would be ours. Yet another lie that needed to be told. In reality the elders had absolutely no idea what to do with it other than to bring back Rassilon and ask the glorious late lord president to think of something clever to save their worthless lives. When I finally found out what all of my hard work and bloody sacrifices were for, I decided not to fight for their cause any longer."
Gellard watched how the mirror-like disk trembled when the Master extended his hand to it and nearly touched the golden surface. "Stop it! Don't" Gellard pleaded. "The voices coming from inside are warning us! We should leave it be!"
"Oh stop being spineless." He scorned. "Men of the Midwall were supposed to be heroes, not bedwetting cowards." But the smirk on the Master's face was badly forged as he felt his own double heartbeat pick up pace. Before his eyes, the golden shine parted and revealed the millstream of the timevortex, and through the fog of the times gone by, a dark figure appeared, his silhouette cutting through the mist as he came riding on his two headed beast over the windswept moors.
"Finally." The Master whispered. "I've been waiting for you."
The man on the other side dismounted and walked up to the mirror gate. His startling blue eyes gazed right through the thin veil of time and met the Master's own steel grey eyes. The harsh grin that appeared on the man's lips mirrored that of the Master.
"You've come back." His reflection in the mirror said.
"Yes." The Master replied calmly. "And this time I will not fail."
"The Master…he's going to try again…" Donna muttered, falling limp in the Doctor's arms as he rushed over to her, her voice trailed off into a slumber. "Doctor…We can't…We can't let him…"
"Donna please look at me!" The Doctor shook her shoulders as she was struggling to remain awake. "What do you see? What is he doing? Tell me!"
"The tomb…the disk. It's a gateway into a space between worlds." Her eyelids fluttered wildly as her consciousness mixed with that of the Master. Her mind was like a witches cauldron as she came to know all that the Master knew. "Something is stirring in the dark. A lost Timelord, powerful and ancient. He's been there for so long, trapped in the cold void that it has claimed his sanity. The Master is going to release him to help him defeat Rassilon, he wants to revenge himself by absorbing all of his strengths and his powers."
"Omega." The Doctor whispered, his hearts turning into two lumps of ice. "No. NO. NO! He can't do this! He can't!"
"Who's Omega?" Ser Titanis asked.
"A Timelord god. A fallen Titan who once awakened will lay everything to ashes." The Doctor shook his head and pulled his hair. "He can't bring him back. He will not be able to control him! I have to talk him out of this!"
"How are you going to stop him Doctor? You can't even get to him!" The Saltlord opted.
"Donna….Listen to me…I can't reach him without your help." The Doctor placed his hands flat on Donna's temples.
"What? W-What are you going to do?" Donna muttered in her half-awaken state.
"I am sorry. But I need to do this."
She screamed when the Doctor forced his mind into the mad chaos of her own. Suddenly, she was trapped inside a violent whirlwind of thoughts and voices that came from both Timelords, each of them stronger and more powerful than her own. It's like she was forced out of her own body, out of her own mind and existence, and pushed away in a little corner where she lingered as a voiceless entity that was barely conscious. Reduced to a passive observer of the drama that was unfolding before her, she saw in her mind's eye the stage that was set inside the Master's locked Tardis where this final catastrophic act was going to be played out between the two Timelords.
"What are you doing?" Gellard yelled, watching the Master's actions with growing terror. "Don't! You can't let Dagon's ghost loose on this world! It will destroy everything!"
"That's not Dagon's ghost you dimwit. That is me." The Master stared at his reflection of his by gone regeneration with a sense of pride. "The Nightmare Child who the Elders brought back to fight the war. The man who sacked Dagonmourn and got rid of your wretched ancestors." He paused and shut his eyes. "Oh how I long for those forgotten days. At least back then, my hearts do not bear the rotten burden of my conscience. There were no voices to stir me awake. Only dark dreamless sleep." When he opened his eyes again they burned fiercely with greed as he gazed at his almost perfect reflection. How he envied him. How he wanted to become him…And he shall.
The Nightmare Child smiled confidently at him behind the eye of harmony. "Are you sure? You know that you've tried before -"
"And have died a thousand deaths to pay for my foolishness and pride." The Master added. "Yes, I do remember. My mortal body could not contain it, and in the end I had to sacrifice my Tardis to safe myself from losing my last few precious regenerations. But time has changed me. Thanks to that old serpent Rassilon, I am now immortal and more than worthy of Omega's noble gift." He wanted it. He craved it. His hunger for Omega's power was primeval, a dark force inside him that was more ancient and true than anything else in his life, and for a moment he wondered why he had tried to deceive himself for so long. He was a monster, a wolf in sheep's clothing, and none of the good what he had done with the Doctor could have ever changed his ravenousness nature.
"Let me claim it." He demanded from his mirror-self. "Let me merge with Omega's essence and restore Rassilon's greatest enemy to his former glory!"
Doctor's voice penetrated through the protection shield of the Tardis' exterior and entered his mind, the last voice of reason in ocean of madness and rage.
The Master swallowed and watched how his mirror image smiled slyly at him. Go on then. A good dog should respond to his master's call. I knew you wouldn't have the guts to let me out. I knew it all along.
"Doctor…I have not expected to speak to you again." He said, forcing himself to remain calm.
Master please listen to me! You can't free Omega from the dark void. Think! That amount of power is too much for anyone to control. It's impossible, even for an immortal Timelord. If you try to absorb him he will certainly destroy you!
"If my final act will ensure the destruction of Rassilon than I am willing to make that sacrifice." The Master answered stubbornly.
Can't you see that he's not worth it? Rassilon has controlled you ever since you entered the Vault of Cold Lamentations as a child. Don't let him destroy the rest of your life. You can't let him do this do you. You cannot let fear and anger take over!
"I warn you, get out of my head Doctor. I have made up my mind."
Look at where you are now. Remember all that you have done since you were released from the drums. You've come so far, don't just throw it all away, only because you think this is the easy way out. It's not. Stop and think! Please! You don't need to fight Rassilon alone. I am here…
There was a moment of hesitation that granted the Doctor a shimmer of hope that somehow his strayed friend could be persuaded by these heartfelt words.
"It's true." The Master whispered. "You have always been a good friend to me. You've never let me down."
And I never will. If only you would let me help. Please Master, turn around. Step away from the gate. Just…Let it go.
"I…I can't" The Master replied, reason twisting back into obstinacy and irrationality, he shook his head as a tear spilled down his cheek. "It's too late. Far too late."
It's never too late -
"Stop this pretence Doctor. I know the truth. I know about the prophecies that sweet River Song has whispered in your ears, back in the quiet forest of Great Birnam Woods."
He could feel the Doctor's anxiety grow through their mind-link. How did you…
"Oh you are so consumed by your troubled thoughts that they are as loud as the cries of a drowning man. There was never a chance that you could keep this a secret from me. She told you everything, didn't she? You knew about the symbol of three and the Infinity cooperation, the return of Rassilon. You knew about Rachel, Donna and Anne…you knew what would happen to her and still you didn't warn me -"
It's not what you think…I didn't know everything. Besides I wanted to protect you-
"Protect me from what?" He scoffed. "The return of Rassilon? The rise of the Nightmare Child? That bitch warned you about me, didn't she? She knew what I will become…what I will do to this world…what I will do to you…"
Master, don't do this…if you release Omega, that is it! That will be the end. You will seal your own fate and with it that of the rest of the universe. Please listen…It's not too late. Please…I beg you to stop. Stop while you still can.
"NOTHING can be changed!" The Master shouted, and reached out to the portal, determined and scared at the same time. "Fate has already decided. This is where I have to be." His voice quivered as he forced himself to remain strong. "Every path that I have taken in the past has led me to this…this specific point in time…has guided me to this place. It is my destiny. No one can chance the outcome…not me…not even you."
The past incarnation of the Master mimicked his actions and also reached out, placing the palm of his hand against his.
Goodbye Doctor. He whispered to him, just before he severed the mindlink. See you at the end.
No, no, NO! Master don't!
The Doctor's voice disappeared in a blizzard of sounds and images. The thin membrane between our universe and the void melted away and the raw, freezing energy of the deep empty darkness of the void exploded through his body. His mind filled up with an infinity of knowledge of all of the existing universes and the dark places in between. Time and space unraveled into thin ribbons, then disintegrated into atoms, to reveal to him their secrets so that he understood and knew everything, and with that, could change everything.
He realized that he could alter the past with just his will alone. He could construct new universes by altering physical laws and splitting atoms. He could let the sun rise in the west and grind mountains into dust. He could destroy life as easily as he could create it. He was all-powerful, invincible and supreme.
He was transforming into a living, breathing God.
But as the Master had learned long ago, every great gift must come at a great cost.
His own existence was disappearing. The memories of his life and the sense of self peeled away like old paint from an old weathered surface. The greatest of all Timelords does not tolerate another consciousness in this limited corporal form of mere flesh and bones, even if it was an immortal one. So everything that the Master was, everything that defined and had shaped him, was all being stripped away, only to be replaced by a red thunderous beast of rage. For although Omega had been trapped for billions of years in the emptiness of the void, he had not forgotten Rassilon's betrayal. Vengeance was what had fuelled his resurrection, and so all of us will come to know his wrath. Not only Rassilon, but all of the Timelords scattered throughout space and time will suffer. He will wipe their existence from the silver coil of the timevortex. He will blast the stars from the skies and shroud it in eternal darkness, and turn the universe into nothing more but a graveyard of empty shells, drifting in a vast cold emptiness devoid of life and light.
Magnificent. He though, irrationally, and insanely. Magnificent and merciless. Let them burn, them all BURN! The whole of creation shall suffer by the hands of their new vengeful master!
Blinded by the apocalyptic visions, and having lost every contact with the physical world, he did not sense nor see the blade that came for him. Only when the steel pierced through his back and spilled the blood from his corporal form that was still locked in the resurrection process, did he turn and look into the eyes of the brave Midwall knight who had dared to attack him. Enraged, the half-God released a deadly blast at him, and Gellard screamed when the bolt hit him and turned into an inferno that melted the iron from his armor plates and boiled his flesh inside his harness. His suffering was short. Within a second he was no more, his body vaporized by the intense heat.
The Master's fate was far less forgiving.
Severely weakened by the assault, he realized that he could no longer control all of Omega's violent power. His strength was leaving him, seeping away fast through the bloody slash where the sword had struck him and had punctured his lungs and major arteries. The hold of Omega on his mind was diminishing as well, only to leave his own self to resurfaced together with a deep dark sense of fear. He struggled back on his feet as he continued to fight for breath with his lungs drowning in blood. Inside his chest, he could feel that both his hearts were slowly grinding to a hold.
The Master, was dying.
Struggling to remain standing, he staggered away from the corrupted eye of harmony and collapsed over the base of a nearby statue. It seemed that fate was not yet done playing cruel tricks on him, for when he cast his eyes up to the ceiling, he found himself staring right into the face of a stone portrait of his own murdered father. Lord Oakdown looked down upon him sternly, and in his final agonizing moments, he could read all of his father's contempt and disappointment in those lifeless granite eyes.
Never has there been in Gallifreyan history such a heinous crime committed by a Timelord. Such an unnatural, beastly act. Such barbarism.
"Please, father no." He murmured weakly, but his dying mind kept projecting these disturbing visions onto the stone mercilessly. It was as if the demons of his wicked past had all returned to claim their pound of flesh from his dying soul. "I did this to redeem myself. To change everything, to turn it back as it should have been." He wept tears of anger and frustration. "It wasn't my fault." He begged. "If it wasn't for Rassilon…and the drums…I could have been more…I could have been better, but I had no choice."
You need help my boy. You can't go on like this. Let me warn the council. I promise that once they know what made you do all this they won't be too harsh on you.
"No!" He cried out. "They won't understand. They will only see the monster. They will demand revenge and scream for my blood." He licked his lips and tasted iron on his tongue. "The Doctor…Please father, don't…Don't let him in. I don't want him to see me…not like this…"
The ancient energy that spilled out of the gaping wound in his back swarmed around the closed chamber in a raging storm of ghouls and furies. In his madness, he saw them all as avenging spirits who he had wronged in his long and sinful life. Lucy and Anne, lady Gwendolyn and her children, Dea and Ravenius, Redgrave and lord Dagon. They all cried out to him, cursing his name and condemning his existence. A swirling and howling mass, his own guilt-ridden conscience turned to flesh. Desperate to get away from all this, he searched blindly around the statue and finally found the seal hidden in stone beneath the statue's feet.
He pressed it down and the haunted chamber washed away in a blinding red light together with the cursed portal. The wheezing, churning heart of Lord Oakdown's ancient Tardis rose out of the ground, and just before the Master collapsed on floor, the stone walls reshaped themselves into an closed room, the living, membrane like walls stretching over sinewy branches similar to the boney finger structures of a batwing sheltering him from the storm outside.
Like a dog that had been abandoned by its master for too long, the Tardis reacted with hostility to the Master's sudden reappearance. It forced him to use up his last remaining strength to enforce his will onto her. A horrible feeling of déjà vu struck the Master as he recalled how he had equally struggled to gain control over the Tardis when he had first stolen it from lord Oakdown to escape Gallifrey and certain punishment.
He had murdered his own father for it. Perhaps it was only fitting that he would perish here, and repay the debts he owed to his old man for being everything he had never wanted him to become.
I have failed you again, haven't I? Even when I try to make amends, I am failing you.
But then he heard the Doctor shout his name, pounding his fists on the doors, and demanding to let him in. Never. He thought, stubborn and proud till the very end.
He forced his dark thoughts aside, grinding his teeth. A wave of pain washed over him, and he closed his eyes and grimaced. "Listen to me…" He whispered and coughed up blood over the console. "I know I have done you a great wrong…but please, my most faithful companion, my very last who has remained, don't let me die here. Don't let him see me die. Not like this. I beg you...Not like this..."
Weakly, he reached out over the console. His shaking hand smeared blood all over the dials, but his fleeting consciousness could not remember which buttons to push or which lever to lift. A great sense of loss consumed him, and torn by bitterness and regret, he cursed the very day that he was born.
All I wanted with what was left of my wretched life was to take my revenge on the man who had turned me into a monster. I wanted to right my wrongs, but even that chance was not granted to me. I die as a complete and utter failure, put down by a miserable little Saltman like a bad mongrel dog.
As he began to lose his feeling in his extremities, and the cold swept over him like a blanket of ice, a tear glided down his cheek. It can't be. This can't be my fate. It's not fair! I cannot have lived and gone through so much only for it to end like this.
He heard the Doctor continue to scream his name relentlessly. Come out, Master. Come out! Let me help! He begged. But it was too late. Far too late. Oh he should have listened. He should have accepted the Doctor's help. He should have done a thousand, even a million things differently, but now there was no more time for him to set things right, and only a very few precious little seconds left for nothing more than remorse.
Tired and defeated, he closed his eyes, and waited for the end to come.
The ground began to shake, and for a moment he thought that the earth itself was opening up to swallow him into the depths of hell. He didn't know that it was the Tardis, who was coming to the aid of her master, the ancient bond between Timelord and Tardis still strong enough to urge her to bring her lord to safety. Her beating heart began to pour out swarming rays of energy that transformed the Tardis from the inside out. On the outside, the Doctor stopped shouting and stepped back from the disk, which so far had been the only shape in which the Master's Tardis was disguised. He watched in horror how it grew and transformed itself into a living, breathing beast from hell.
Lord Titanis, who had been taking care of Donna after she had lost consciousness, shot an alarmed look at the Doctor. "What foul sorcery is this?" He yelled.
The dragon stood at least as tall as 10 Saltmen. It swayed its head from one side to the other and gazed down with one gigantic red eye at the Doctor, before it opened its maul and spewed out a crimson fireball into the air.
"Master!" The Doctor shouted. "Stop it! What are you doing?"
The beast unfolded its bat-like wings that had the color of death, black and blood red, and revealed its beating heart that was like a beacon of light that glowed inside its chest, making a shadowy display of its ribcage behind the layers of muscles and leathery skin. It rose on its hind-legs and lashed out its lizard tail around the chamber, knocking down walls and stone statues in one destructive sweep. The structure of the vault weakened, and parts of the ceiling started to come down and threatened to bury everyone inside the tomb underneath tons of earth.
"Doctor!" The Saltlord shouted as he pulled up Donna and carried her over his shoulder. "This beast is going to bury us alive!"
"Master, tell her to stop! Stop this, please!"
Lord Titanis pulled the Timelord away from the raging beast, convinced that he had lost his wits. "He's not listening to you! We have to go. The whole place is coming down!"
"Master!" The Doctor yelled before he was forced to turn around and run when large blocks of the arched bows above came plummeting down in a rain of dirt and rocks. As they fled for safety, he glanced back over his shoulder and saw the creature rearing up and leaping into the air as it spread out its wings, tearing the holes in the wing membranes in the confined space. It then arched back its serpent neck and let out a harsh roar before its breath turned into a blazing inferno and burned a hole in the crumbling ceiling, the flames so hot that it melted the sandstone and let it rain down to the ground in drops of scorching liquid glass. It kept spewing fire, creating a channel large enough for its skull to squeeze through. Then it flapped violently with its wings and forced its massive muscular shoulders through the crack in the ceiling and into the tunnel that led to the world above. The violence of the breakout completely destroyed the chamber, and the Doctor and his remaining companions only just made it out in time to feel the surge of debris pelt down on their backs, followed by an ear-shattering blast as the tomb imploded into itself.
When the dust finally settled, the Doctor came crawling out of a pile of rubble. He searched for the others and found Lord Titanis. Although slightly injured, he was still standing, with Donna leaning heavily on his shoulders. They were surrounded by the deadly forest of Nightshades, but they did no longer need to fear for an attack from these carnivorous plants. The spear-like air roots and the poisonous leaves had all died away in the harsh light of day that now penetrated deep inside their realm. The dragon's ascend had turned Dagonmourn and the Hills of Sorrow into one gigantic crater. The Doctor gazed up at what was now a wide circular hole to the grey open sky beyond and saw the dragon soaring high above the ruined castle. With every beat of the wings it climbed higher and higher, till it soared through the stratosphere of the planet and disappeared into space.
The Doctor wanted to shut out everything around him. Every sight, every sound and every smell. If he closed his eyes and concentrated long enough and hard enough on the white point star, he might find him. He might yet be still alive.
Or so he kept telling himself.
The road back to the South was long and depressing. Donna had quickly recovered, but couldn't remember a single thing after the Doctor had forced himself into her mind in his last desperate attempt to intervene with the Master's plans. Although it was a fearful experience, she didn't resent him for what he did.
Something horrible had happened.
She knew by the way the Doctor kept his silence when she asked him about their missing companion, and by the way he averted his eyes when she mentioned his name. He even refused to speak another word to her about the events of Dagonmourn. Eventually it was lord Titanis who told her about the appearance of the dragon and the destruction of the tomb.
She had never seen the Doctor like this before. She was getting really worried about him. He had become barely a shadow of his old self. It was as if the Doctor was in a state deep mourning, as if he had already consolidated with the thought that the Master was gone forever…but then, at the very last leg of their journey to the Midwall, she glimpsed him marching on through the rain and cold in silence, while holding on firmly to the white point star, whispering inaudible words under his breath.
So he was still looking for him.
Perhaps there was still hope.
When they finally reached the Midtower at the fifth day of their jouney back home, it became time to bid farewell to Ser Titanis. The unfortunate events in the north had aged and hardened the old Saltlord, but he was well aware of what Doctor had tried to do for his people, and for that he was truly grateful.
"I bid you a safe journey my good friend." He slapped him on his shoulder and embraced him like a brother. The weather seemed to be reflecting the pessimistic mood of the traveling companions, and the water was coming down in buckets, while the harsh winds swept icy rain drops right into their faces. "May all your wise forefathers be with you. You'll need their protection to fight against our false Gods. Don't mourn for him too long." He whispered in the Doctor's ear, for Ser Titanis was always wearing his heart on his sleeve. "If I had to shed a tear for every good man who has fallen, it would drown the salted earth. That man you've lost was not worth the mud on my boots."
There was a moment of long and heartrending silence as the Doctor gazed over the windswept moor with his hand tucked inside his long coat where he kept and cherished his precious white point star.
"I am not in mourning." He finally replied. His cheeks were wet with a blend of rain and tears, but his eyes burned with renewed determination. "And you are wrong."
It was hard at first, but after much trying, he succeeded in wriggling some of his fingers. They felt strange, stiff and long, reminding him of a thin-legged spider scuttling over the floor. Then, miraculously, he managed to lift his hand. It hovered in front of his eyes like a loose trembling organ, an entity on its own. He studied it for a while, before deciding to better put it to use instead of staring at it like a lunatic. When he finally managed to put his left hand firmly on the grid and push himself up, his other hand joined in by reflex as quickly and as easily as if he hadn't been struggling to gain control over his body just a minute ago. It seemed that all you have to do is let them know who was in charge, and the rest will follow automatically. Surely nothing could be more simple. But when he climbed on his feet he immediately fell over, tumbling over his own limbs like a disorientated newborn fawn.
The Tardis wasn't helping either. It was violently rocking up and down and from side to side, as if it was swallowed by a giant and it was now working its way down a massive gullet. If this goes on for too long I am going to be really sick. The Master thought. He felt chilled and feverish, and he was irritated as hell. Where is the bloody Doctor when you need him? He wasn't sure that it wasn't his own fault that they have gotten into this mess, for this was obviously a bloody mess indeed, but normally the Doctor would have showed up and picked up the pieces by now. That's how it worked. He could rely on the Doctor and the Doctor was reliable. Someone in his mad and chaotic world had to be. Otherwise, what was the fun in wrecking all this havoc if you had to clean up afterwards?
"Doctor!" He shouted. He wrinkled up his nose for the scent of scorched hair and skin that assaulted his nostrils. "Doctor! Something is burning. Clemencius forbid but you're not trying to cook, are you?"
Something was wrong with his hearing too. His voice sounded completely strange to him. He put a finger in his ear and wriggled it to clear it out.
"Doctor, where the bloody hell are you?"
He tried to stand up again, but this time he wisely held on to the railing. It was only when he finally managed to keep his balance on legs that seemed to be made out of jelly that he finally took a good look around the console room.
"Have you changed the desktop theme again? What is this? Dragonskin?" He though it was absolutely vile, even for someone with such a notoriously bad taste like his Timelord companion. Then he turned his head to the side and noticed that the Tardis core was replaced by an enormous glowing heart that was pumping out a bright green liquid into a disorderly connection of tubes.
"Seriously, I think you've taken that theme decorating obsession a bit too far." The Master sighed, shaking his head in disapproval. Curious though about the new changes that the Doctor had made, he reached over the console to trace the tubing when he felt a sharp pang of pain cut through his spine. He uttered a cry and instinctively reached for the wound. The back of his shirt felt soaking wet with a warm sticky fluid, and when he retracted his hand, his fingers were covered in blood.
He wriggled his blood-drenched fingers in front of his eyes when a part of his missing memory came rushing back to him.
Or at least, he was dying.
"But I am still here." He muttered, unable to stop his fingers from flapping around nervously like a bird that had forgotten how to fly. "I am bleeding, but I am still here."
He gazed around, and began to scrutinize the interior of the Tardis through new eyes. "This is not the Doctor's Tardis." He concluded out-loud. "This is my father's Tardis…It's mine." He laid down his shaky hand on the giant heart, and felt the cardiac muscles contract rhythmically. The link between Tardis and Timelord immediately opened up and he was flooded with information. He finally knew the reason why the Tardis was so shaking so violently.
"And for some reason, I've apparently turned her into an airborn dragon…" He murmured in surprise as he lifted his hand and absentmindedly rubbed the blood over his sleeve. At least he got away from Dagonmourn alive. The memory of the bloodthirsty avenging demons that had tormented him in his final moments remained even now, absolutely terrifying to him, and he was glad that he had escaped their fury.
But something had changed. He felt different. His legs and arms seemed wrong. Too wiry and too long for their own good, and when he stood straight up he had somehow the notion that he was balancing on stilts. He also realized that there was nothing wrong with his hearing. His voice just sounded strange, and no matter how often he cleared his throat till it was as dry as sandpaper, he could not change it back to how it was.
Then it struck him.
He rushed over to a black computer screen to look at his reflection. No one, not even an immortal Timelord, could have survived what he had been through. To believe that he done so was just foolish. He stared at the mirroring surface. The man who stared back at him from the other side was no longer the same man who Rassilon had once condemned to an eternity in hell. His face was gaunt with sharp cheekbones. His skin was pale, and his eyes were startling blue, the colour of winter frost.
The Master had died after all.
"I have regenerated." He kept staring at himself, cocking his head to one side with his eyes unblinking. A mad giggle tickled the back of throat and he burst out in laughter. His new voice was low, and hummed like a bumblebee. "Finally, I have regenerated! Forever gone is mister prime minister Harold Saxon! For once in my wretched life my wish has come true. Look at me, I am him! I am truly him!" The man in the reflection mimicked his smile. It was a smile that had once driven lord Dagon's brave warriors to utter despair and ruin. "I am myself. I am me…" He whispered, to remind himself who exactly he had become.
He felt the prickling sensation of static energy, beginning at the tips of his fingers, and spreading out slowly over his entire hand like a current of ice and fire. His skin and muscles became translucent and glowing, and when he bald his hand into a fist, violent blue sparks crackled around it like flashes of miniature lightning.
It seemed that not all of Omega's powers had been lost.
"Who would have thought." He murmured. Fascinated by this strange metamorphosis, he couldn't keep his eyes off from the bolts of energy that kept shooting from his skin. Slowly but certainly, he became more and more aware of the prospects of his new self, and he found it absolutely exhilarating.
"It seems that River Song had it right all along...The Nightmare Child has risen from the dead."
That's it friends. Once again my apologies for taking so long between the posts. I have a bad habit of continiously rewriting everything and I find it hard to keep momentum when I have to add new stuff. Next up is A Map of the Soul. I can't really tell when it will be published, but I am aiming for the end of summer/beginning of autumn for the first chapters. Meanwhile, please leave a review if you enjoy this series. It really helps to motivate me to keep writing this strange and most demanding beast.