Chapter Nine

Romula was lounging in his hut, drinking an alcoholic beverage made from Tretok, bitter orange berries fermented for a season and distilled into a liquid. He, like all the other young Wacona warriors, was dark skinned with long raven hair that flowed down his back. His body was decorated with piercings and tattoos. But, unlike the others, he also wore a long skin robe that had magical symbols and animals burned into the back of it. This lay draped around him like a regal robe, obscuring his loincloth. He was in his early thirties, a veteran of many wars and raids that had left faint scars crisscrossing his chest and arms. His deeds had earned him the respect and admiration of the others and it was his people who elected him to be the leader of the Wacona tribe, an honor he took seriously. Under his leadership, his people had flourished and prospered. He smiled. The gods and goddesses blessed them all, and he was going to pay it back by offering the two women as tribute.

He took a sip and rested his back on a hide that was stretched across a wooden frame. The sunlight shone down on him through the smoke hole on the top of the hut and the smoke from his fire lazily rose through it. He was about ready to lay back and take a nap when he saw some feet underneath the door blanket.


He smiled when he heard Gelik's voice outside.

"Enter," he said.

The blanket was pulled back and Gelik slowly stepped inside.

"Hello, my friend, how are you today?" Romula said, warmly.

He rose to his feet and embraced Gelik.

"I am fine, my friend," Gelik replied, "I trust you are well today?"

"Never better. The gods, goddesses, and spirits are truly smiling upon us."

Gelik nodded. Romula gestured to a skin frame across from him.

"Come and rest your back," he said.

"Thank you. If you do not mind, I wish to speak to you, honored leader."

Romula held up his hand.

"You practically raised me, Gelik. There is no need for formalities between us."

Gelik nodded.

"I am glad to hear it, Romula, because I must be blunt with you."

Romula cocked his head.


"Romula, you cannot sacrifice the women to the gods."

Romula was perplexed.

"But, the gods and goddesses demand blood sacrifice in return for their blessing," he said, "they have been especially generous, of late. The crops are flourishing, the Sintok have bore many young, and the raids on the Quinok have been successful. We must pay tribute in order to ensure their good favor."

"These women are not Quinok. They are innocent. If you shed their blood, it will anger the gods," Gelik said, trying to keep calm, "I have spoken with the spirits, and they assure me that the gods do not need blood…"

"And, I am the leader, Gelik," he said, drawing up to his full height, "the spirits know nothing. They were mortal, just as we are, they do not speak for the gods. Only the gods can do that. Even you, old friend, do not know their true will. For countless centuries, our people have given the blood in tribute to the god's magnificence, and for countless centuries, the cycle of life has continued on. Do you wish to provoke the god's wrath and bring curses down upon our heads by interfering with that cycle now?"

Gelik sighed. He knew it was a losing battle going in, but he liked Donna and Martha, so he had to try for them. But, unfortunately, he was fighting against centuries of Wacona conditioning and the fear of the gods cursing them was enough to keep an outdated practice going and now, it would cost the lives of two total strangers. Gelik shuddered thinking how his ancestors would react to Donna and Martha's deaths. There had been many times when he had entered a trance and heard them weeping for the atrocities his people were committing, the raids with the Quinok and the slaughter of countless men, women, and children. But, no one cared about that. The so-called war with the Quinok had gone on so long that no one knew exactly how it all started, only that it must continue. Men like Romula were good people, they just believed in the wrong things.

He sighed when he noticed how angry Romula was. He knew now it was a hopeless cause. Anything else he said would just be a waste of breath. Groaning, he slowly rose to his feet.

"I apologize for upsetting you, old friend," Gelik said, smiling.

Romula put a hand on his shoulder.

"I understand your words, my friend, but I will not risk going against centuries of tradition to spare two strangers. I have been elected to take care of my people and it is their needs I must consider, not the needs of those who have already passed into the land of dreams. And now, if you have nothing further to say, I wish to take a nap before I offer up the tribute. Good day, Gelik."

Gelik nodded politely. His heart sinking, he left Romula's hut and headed towards his own. He had one option left. If he couldn't save his new friends, he could fulfill their request and give them a merciful death.

The Doctor and Rose paused for a moment by a stream, so they could get a quick drink of water. Rose cupped her hands, dipped it into the sparkling water, and took a big gulp. She sighed, as the cool liquid ran down her throat. She looked out ahead of her, but all she could see was the forest. There was no sign of civilization anywhere. She looked over at the Doctor who was squatting down on her left side, drinking in the water.

"Doctor, how far do you think we have to go before we reach the Wacona village?" she asked.

The Doctor finished drinking. He wiped the water from his lips while he considered that.

"I don't know, Rose, I really don't know," he said, "I'm not even sure if we're still heading in the right direction. I'm just heading towards the right like Hatarok said. All we can do is trust that the Sintok are taking us towards their village."

He looked at Rose.

"And trust that the Bad Wolf is doing everything in her power to delay the sacrifice until we get there."

Donna was getting tired of lying on the ground. The ropes were chafing her skin and her arms and legs ached from being forced together for so long. She wished that something, anything would happen. She wanted either the Doctor and Rose to show up, or Gelik to come back and give her some news. She was terrified that while she was lying on her back, helpless, the Wacona were torturing Martha.

Finally, after what seemed like ages, the blanket was pulled back and a very somber Gelik entered the hut.

"Well, what's going on?" Donna demanded, trying to twist around, so she could see him better, "will they let us go?"

"No, my child, Romula will not let you or Martha go."

Donna's face drained of all color.

"But…but you can't kill us! You have no right to do this to me or Martha!" she said, angrily, "isn't there something you can do? Anything?"

"I've tried, Donna, but Romula will not listen," he said sadly, as he squatted down beside her, "he is set in his ways, as are all of my people. They are convinced that blood must be shed in order for the gods and goddesses to bless the Wacona."

"There must be something you can do," Donna said, desperately, "stall them. Stall Romula until the Doctor can get here."

"I don't know when that will be, my child. I can't hold them off forever," Gelik said, "I believe Romula is taking a nap right now, but once he wakes up, he will commence with the sacrifice."

"Does he take long naps?"

"Not usually."

"Then, drug him. You're a witch doctor. You must have some kind of magic potion that will knock him out until the Doctor gets here!"

"Donna, if I do that and I'm found out, my people will put me to death along with you."

"Risk it, then! Please! Martha and I don't want to die! Look, the Doctor is coming. I haven't traveled with him all that long, but I know that when you need him, he'll be there. All we need to do is to stall long enough for him to get here and rescue us. And if there's a chance your people could put you to death for this, then come with us. The Doctor will protect you if you help us out, I promise you. Just please, please, take a chance."

Gelik sighed. He was torn between helping these women and serving his people. Unsure what to do, he did what he always did. He quieted his mind and silently asked for the advice of the spirits. His eyes closed while he listened for an answer.

Suddenly, he saw a flash of golden light in his mind's eyes and the face of a white, furry beast with glowing gold eyes appeared. As he silently marveled at this beautiful spirit creature, he heard a woman's voice echoing in his mind.

Help them.

Gelik nodded. The spirits had never been wrong before and if this one were asking to help these strange women, he would not question it. He smiled at Donna who was watching him silently.

"Alright, I will help stall the sacrifice until the Doctor comes. But, be warned, I may be able to keep Romula from conducting the rituals, but if the delay goes on to long, my people might become impatient and take matters into their own hands. I pray that your Doctor is almost here."

"Yeah, you and me both," Donna muttered.

She smiled gratefully at him.

"Thank you," she said.

"Do not thank me. Thank the spirits. They have advised me to do this."

"Well, thank God the spirits are on our side then."

Gelik nodded.

"First, I will tend to your needs and Martha's needs, and then I will make up a sleeping potion and give it to Romula."

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