CAVERN OF DEATH

Chapter 4

The Doctor and Clara ducked behind the altar to avoid another arrow that was being sent their way. As the two of them hid, several shadowy figures darted out from the dark recesses of the temple. Short, lithe men were flitting from column to column, drawing ever closer. They were dressed in brown trousers and wore loose-fitting embroidered shirts in dark colours. Quivers were slung over their backs and long, pointed knives hung from a thick, braided cord belt at their waists. Colourful cloth headbands encircled their long, dark hair and short leather boots covered their bare feet.

"Shouldn't you try talking to them, Doctor?" Clara suggested.

"Possibly. Only, I'm not sure what we'd have to chat about,." The Doctor shrugged. "I mean, we're in an underground stone temple. So I think the weather and gardening are pretty much off the conversational menu. And I don't do politics or religion Well not usually, anyway. Not unless I really want to irritate someone." He watched another arrow bounce off the stone wall behind them. "Of course, there's always sports. They do seem to be rather fond of archery. And after all, I have learned from the very best. Robin Hood. William Tell. Sitting Bull. His Most Victorious Varlak of the Citon Cluster. Maybe I can give them some pointers." He grinned and nudged her. "Get it, Clara? Arrows? Pointers?"

Raising an eyebrow, she said to him, "Call this a mad idea Doctor, but couldn't you simply tell them that we come in peace or...something like that? I dunno'. You probably have a lot more experience with these things than I do. Whatever usually works in this type of situation."

"Clara, I have an idea. I'll try talking to them."

"Yeah, Doctor." She agreed, rolling her eyes. "Sounds like a plan. Why don't you try that, then?"

Raising his arm above the altar and wiggling his fingers, the Doctor shouted "Hello?" He carefully peeked over the edge and said, "Excuse me. I think we have somewhat of a communication problem here. We mean you no harm or disrespect. I'm the Doctor, by the way. My companion is called Clara. And you lot are...?"

His last question was met by three incoming arrows. The Doctor quickly ducked back down. He gave Clara an embarrassed smile. She merely shrugged.

"That lot are rather angry with us I'd say, Doctor. But four marks for trying. Got any other ideas?"

Ermó" the Doctor hesitated, "Not as such, no." He suddenly gave Clara an indignant look. "Only four marks? Glad I didn't have you for a teacher when I was at the academy."

Giving the Doctor a cheeky grin, Clara replied, "Who do you think failed you on your TARDIS licensing exam?"

"We have them now, Manchert." Said one of the three warriors of the temple to an older man standing beside him.

The old man was slightly overweight and balding. He wore a gold pendant around his neck, signifying his leadership. He held up his hand. "Stop. All of you. Shoot at the strangers no more."

"What are we waiting for, Manchert?" Complained the third man, called Bluerock. He was barely out of his teens, newly initiated into the warrior class and impatient with his older counterparts. "They must be unarmed, if they are trying to negotiate with us. We can finish them off with one quick charge."

The older man looked towards the altar with an expression of awe mixed with wonder. Meanwhile, the young warrior loosed another arrow at the Doctor and Clara.

"I said hold, man!" Manchert scolded, staying Bluerock's arm. "We must not harm these strangers."

"They have dishonored the temple. They must die! That is the law of our people. We must not anger the Overlords by allowing them to defile these holy precincts." Bluerock persisted forcefully, eager for blood. "Why must we wait?"

"Because I think we may be in the presence of a god, Bluerock."

"Have you lost your senses?" The second warrior, a middle aged man known as Lifestone, said. "I mean no disrespect, Manchert. And you know I would never blaspheme in this, our holiest of places. Nevertheless, it's a known fact that not since the time of the First People, has any of our gods graced this temple. I've seen no sign of any godlike presence here today. Nothing whatsoever. How can you be so sure?

"What he says is true, Manchert." Bluestone agreed. "They are merely strangers who have trespassed upon holy ground. Do you not agree?"

"I agree there have been strangers here who are not gods, yes. But there is one who is."

"You say you see a god." Lifestone snorted, "Which god do you think we have in here?

"I believe we may be in the presence of The World Saver."

Lifestone gasped. "Him? None of our people have seen Him since the Dawn Times. How could you know that he is here now?"

"Because he gave his name. Did you not all hear it for yourselves?" Manchert said reverently, fingering the gold amulet that hung from his neck. "He said he was the Doctor. That is recorded in the Great Scroll as one of The World Saver's many names."

"You really think it may be The World Saver?" Lifestone asked in a hushed, suddenly hopeful, voice.

"I want to believe. Yes." The older warrior said positively.

Lifestone stared at Manchert's shiny gold amulet. It was long and square and had a design that looked surprisingly like a nineteen sixties British police box.

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