Chapter 15

In the seconds before the knight standing before her would end her life, Clara wondered if the kids would remember her if she died in the Middle Ages. She could smell man's rank body odour as he stepped closer. His pong almost making her eyes water. Which perhaps wasn't a bad thing, Clara thought wryly. At least she wouldn't see the blow when it came.

Then, she felt the Doctor's hand on her shoulder. Standing directly behind Clara, he was pulling her back towards him. Yet in her heart, Clara knew he couldn't possibly save her. His sonic screwdriver wouldn't work this time. These knights had their blood lust up.

"Hold, Wulf! Hold, I say! Sheathe your swords, all of you!" Shouted the bishop.

Reining his horse around the knights, the bishop stared down haughtily at the two Doctors.

"What is your name? And how do you come to be here?" He asked Clara's Doctor.

"I'm the..."

Catching himself just in the nick of time, the Doctor realized that his seventh incarnation had probably already given them his name.

In a haughty manner rivaling that of the bishop he pronounced grandly, "...Permit me to introduce myself. I'm John Smith, Duke of Prydonia, Lord President of Galifrey, Count of TARDIS, Justicar of The Shadow Proclamation, official necromancer for the United Nations Task Force and Grandmaster of, well, everything else. At your service, my Lord Bishop."

Assuming a dignified air, the Doctor gave a graceful bow. Beside him, there was a barely concealed snort of amusement from Theta, while Clara had to resist the urge to roll her eyes.

"And may I say, it is a great honour to meet you." The Doctor continued, explaining, "We came here in my transport, which I have left hidden nearby. Wouldn't do to lose it to your dragon, you see. It's my—our, only way home."

"It concerns me gravely, your grace, to find you here alone. Where is the rest of your retinue, pray tell? I confess I am surprised you found the time to take your, eh, laundress, with you." The bishop looked down his nose at Clara's skirt. "Especially one dressed in such brief..." he cleared his throat uncomfortably, "attire. Does she not get cold? I am afraid if you visit with me sirrah, you will have to leave your whor-"

"More information is what's needed here." The Doctor quickly interrupted the bishop. "You see, I was in such a hurry to get here, I came on alone. Travel faster that way.. My...cousin, Lady Clara here, insisted on coming with me. She can be ever so stubborn about these sorts of things."

The Doctor spread his hands in a 'what can you do?' gesture.

"You should be more forceful with her, sirrah. This is no place for a lady." The bishop said, still looking down his nose at Clara disapprovingly.

For her part, Clara flashed the bishop a dazzling smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.

"Yes. I do see your point." The Doctor nodded sagely. "But I assure you Lady Clara is very clever. For a girl, I mean..."

"What?" Clara began to protest, but Theta gave her a warning nudge.

Giving a hasty curtsey, she looked up at the bishop. "Oh, yeah. Very stubborn. That's me.

"And obstinate." The Doctor added.

Forcing a smile, Clara looked at Doctor. Only, when she had her head turned away from the bishop, the smile turned into a frown of disapproval. The Doctor gave her a quick wink. Then, clasping his hands behind his back, looked away from Clara and flashed a wry grin at the mounted clergyman.

Sighing quietly, Clara faced the bishop once more, saying, "And obstinate, yes. The Doc—I mean, his grace, spoils me rotten. I promise I won't swoon. Or do anything that will hinder your...very butch knights. Or embarrass me."

"Very well, your grace. I'll accept your story. For now. I too, have female relations whom can be quite stubborn, as you say. As to the rest of your story, I'm not entirely satisfied. You claim that you sent this man who calls himself the Doctor, to help us." Bishop Romanus leaned forward, resting his hands on his saddle bows. "How were you informed of our situation? Was it through the king?"

The Doctor's hand dived into his pocket. There was the sound of scraping metal, as some of the knights began to unsheathe their swords once more.

"Wait!" Theta called out to them. "I think he just wants to show you something, my Lord Bishop."

The Doctor stepped forward and passed the wallet containing his psychic paper to the Bishop.

"There's the Royal Warrant granting me permission to travel here and assist you, my Lord Bishop. As you can see for yourself."

"And yet you sent this other man, this Doctor, here in your stead?" The bishop asked, handing the Doctor back his wallet.

"As I was busy at the time...escorting, I sent the er—Doctor on ahead to offer his assistance, if it were needed. I've been teaching him something about dragon slaying, you see. Thought this would be good experience. You know. Get out in the field and get his hands dirty for a change. Leave it to him to muck things up. Never send in an amateur to do a job that requires professional assistance."

"Ey?" Theta frowned and shot his later counterpart a peeved look.

"Very well. The two of you may assist me in defeating this dragon. I'll have my men locate some palfreys for you to ride, in the meantime. After you've refreshed yourselves you may dine with me tonight at my home, where we'll discuss the matter of this dragon in more comfortable surroundings."

Bishop Romanus reined his horse away, but then stopped and turned back in the saddle, "But I warn you, your grace. If I get even a whiff of treachery, I'll burn the lot of you at the stake. And then feed what's left to the dragon myself!"

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