Chapter Two

Clara stepped outside with the Doctor onto the surface of Karn. The planet was barren and desolate and littered with metal corpses of wrecked spaceships.

"What happened here?" Clara said as the Doctor closed the TARDIS doors. "Why are there so many spaceships?"

"The Sisterhood shot them down…or did," the Doctor said, turning around. "They were defending themselves because they have the Elixir of Life and they have the Flame of Utter Boredom as well. I'm sure that was worth blowing up a few ships."

"Flame of Utter Boredom?" Clara said as they walked away from the TARDIS.

"Eternal Life but I call it utter boredom along with utter rubbish and utter codswallop."

"Well of course you do," Clara muttered as she rolled her eyes.

They were walking by the spaceships when the Doctor suddenly stopped and looked at one that was in the distance apart from the others. It was old and falling apart with pieces scattered all over the place. Clara glanced at the Doctor and was surprised to see a stricken look on his face. She thought it odd that one spaceship could cause him to stop short when they'd just passed dozens of them.

"Cass," the Doctor murmured as he stared at the spaceship. "I'm so sorry."

"Who's Cass?" Clara asked.

The Doctor sighed.

"Someone I failed to save a long time ago," he said. "Can't be helped now."

Clara wanted him to elaborate further but he walked away and Clara decided that would never happen so she held her tongue and followed. A half mile from the crash site was a large cave and the Doctor led her to that. When they looked inside, Clara saw a large stone that resembled an altar in the middle of a cavernous room. At the back was another opening but beyond it was completely dark. There were several wooden torches lit which provided enough lighting that they could see what was going on but there was nobody present.

"IS ANYONE HERE?" the Doctor bellowed as he and Clara stepped inside the room. "I WISH TO SPEAK TO ANYONE FROM THE SISTERHOOD OF KARN. I RECEIVED A MESSAGE SUMMONING ME!"

He fell silent and listened for any sign of life.

"Maybe the message was so old that no one is waiting for you anymore," Clara said after a minute of silence.

"No, they wouldn't give up so easily. They're here. That doorway back there, I'm guessing is a tunnel to their monastery. They don't live in this room, Clara. This is where the conduct their rituals."

"What sort of rituals?" Clara said.

"These women were originally from Gallifrey or rather their ancestors were. Millennia ago, Gallifrey was mired in superstition and magic and ruled by a woman or group of women called the Pythia who were supposedly seers and sorcerers. They ruled with an iron hand until Rassilon, Omega and the Other finally overthrew them and installed a culture based on science and reason. The remaining followers of the Pythia fled to Karn and their descendants still practice the old ways, still thinking that their way is superior. They were considered pariahs on Gallifrey until my friend Romana became president and opened up diplomatic relations with them. But despite that, most Gallifreyans still looked on them with disgust and ridicule."

"And you do as well?"

"Well, they did try to burn me at the stake because they thought I was stealing their Elixir of Life, which I wasn't. Then they thought their precious flame was dying and they thought it was because of me. Turns out that it was centuries of soot that was clogging the shaft and I threw a firecracker in it and hey presto, the flame was saved. Go me!"

Clara giggled when the Doctor pumped his fist in the air and let out a woot. They fell silent and the Doctor lowered his hand when they noticed a light was reflecting off the stone walls of the passageway that led out of the room. After thirty seconds, a young woman dressed in a long, red dress emerged holding a flaming torch. She had long blonde hair that cascaded down the front to her breasts and she had white makeup over the entirety of her face and put red makeup around her eyes in a circular pattern that made her look bizarre. The girl put the torch in an empty holder on the wall and then brought her arms up in front of her breasts, crossing them at the wrist and flaring her fingers out. Clara frowned when she kept them that way as she spoke to the Doctor.

"The Sisterhood has heard you, Doctor. You are to follow me. The High Priestess needs to meet with you," she said in a flat emotionless voice.

"Fine, fine, just get on with it," the Doctor said impatiently.

"Follow me," the woman said.

She took the torch from its holder and turned and walked back into the passageway. Clara nudged the Doctor and imitated the woman's bizarre crossed wrists and flared hands. The Doctor chuckled at that and put his hand on her shoulder before the two of them followed the woman.

Once inside the passageway, it began to gently slope downwards until the tunnel was underground. The rock walls gave way to dirt ones the deeper they went.

"So, what's your name?" Clara said after five minutes of silence.

The woman didn't speak.

"Hey, Witchy Woman with the torch, Clara asked you a question," the Doctor yelled at her.

"I am called Mira," the woman said, briefly looking over her shoulder before turning her head back around.

"So how long have you been here, Mira?" Clara asked.

There was no answer and Clara looked at the Doctor.

"Not the talkative type, I suppose," he said with a shrug.

"They walked for twenty more minutes before the tunnel started sloping upwards. Gradually the dirt wall became rock again and finally Clara saw a large wooden door in front of them. On the door was carved several magical symbols.

"Any idea what the symbols mean on the door?" Clara said to the Doctor as she pointed to them.

"Probably this way to the loo or something like that," the Doctor quipped.

He smiled when Clara chuckled at that.

They waited while Mira opened the door and then they followed her through it. They were inside a large room with marble floors and stone walls that had tapestries on it. Each tapestry depicted a woman. Each woman wore a red dress and all of them were wearing a red headdress that was flat on the top with flaps down the sides.

"Who are they?" Clara asked Mira as she pointed to the tapestries.

"Our most reverend High Priestesses that have since passed into the great beyond," Mira said in the same toneless voice she had before.

The Doctor looked around at the different tapestries and recognized Ohica in one of them. Then he looked again and he suddenly recognized another.

"That one there," he said, pointing to it. "She was the one who brought me back to life when I crashed here."

"Yes, that is the High Priestess Ohila," Mira said as she came to his side. "She was the one who summoned you."

"So she's dead now?" Clara said.

"Yes, she passed into the great beyond several years ago," Mira said.

"So whatever she wanted isn't relavent anymore," Clara said to Mira.

"How so?" Mira said, turning to her.

Clara stepped back from her, not yet used to the cadaver makeup and red around her eyes. It made her look bizarre and creepy in her opinion.

"She wanted to speak to him about something," Clara said. "But she's dead now."

"Correct. However, what we found is still here," Mira said. "We found a woman, a very extraordinary woman that was lost. We took her in and began her training and she is now our High Priestess."

"And what has that got to do with me?" the Doctor said.

"She mentioned you by name, Doctor," Mira said calmly as she turned towards him.

"She did? Who is she?" the Doctor said.

"She had an Earth name but we have rechristened her and gave her a Gallifreyan equivalent. She is now known as Arkytior."

Clara jerked her head towards the Doctor when he heard the sharp intake of breath and she grabbed his arm when he staggered back a couple of steps. Then the shock quickly became anger and Clara noticed the Doctor balling up his fists as his murderous look at Mira was in sharp contrast to her calm, impassive look.

"Take me to her then," the Doctor growled at Mira. "Take me to Rose this instant!"

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