'Are we lost?' Clara peered down into the deep narrow valley. It was very beautiful, she had to admit, with the bright green grass and light dusting of mountain flowers. A touch Heidi. But it wasn't the quasi-mediaeval city she had been promised. It was nothing like a city at all.
'Lost?' The Doctor waved the sonic screwdriver around in an apparently random fashion. 'Of course we're not lost. Lost is a state of mind. Lost is an attitude towards one's circumstances—'
'We are lost.'
'Maybe a little.'
'But all we really need is a change of attitude.'
'That,' said the Doctor, 'would be a start.'
Clara smiled to herself. 'There's a path over there,' she said. 'Looks, um, muddy. But it's definitely a path. Why don't we bring some attitude to that?'
The Doctor shrugged. 'As long as it's going down.'
It was indeed going down, and precipitously, but they met the challenge with equanimity and, even, Clara thought, with attitude. When they were back on more level ground, the sun was beginning to set. 'What would happen,' Clara said, asking a question which had been troubling her ever since they had arrived on this world, 'if the TARDIS fell off its perch?' They'd materialised on a very steep slope. There had been some considerable manoeuvring to get out. 'Would it break?'
'Break?' The Doctor stopped mid-step. 'The TARDIS is a highly sophisticated machine. It's practically alive. Do you think it would just let itself fall off a hill?'
Clara reached out a hand to stop the Doctor from taking a tumble himself. 'In fairness, I think we can call this a mountain,' said Clara. 'And there's a thing we call gravity.'
'It wouldn't do too much damage,' said the Doctor, putting both feet firmly down again. 'It never has in the past.'
'Oh good,' said Clara. 'That's encouraging. Next question – and you don't know how I've longed to ask this ever since I took up teaching and got stuck with daytrip duty – are we there yet?'
'Nearly. I'll hold you to that. I mean, I'm enjoying the quiet and everything – don't get me wrong – you don't ever really hear quiet, do you? There's always music playing, or someone trying to talk to you, or else the hum of an ancient and precariously balanced time machine. So some silence is nice. But I'm nearly up to my limit. Nearly.'
The Doctor smiled and walked on. Clara followed. The path curved round the mountainside, and, reaching the other side, Clara stopped in her tracks and gasped.
There was a city in the valley – small but grand, with strong square buildings made of a fine yellow stone. A river ran through the city, crossed by – Clara counted – seven iron bridges. Beyond the city lay the sea, over which the sun was setting in a great red ball of flame, glittering orange on the sea and the river, and setting the stone of the city's buildings ablaze.
'Wow,' said Clara.
'Yes,' said the Doctor.
They stood together, in silence, and watched the darkness gather.
This is a preview of Doctor Who: Royal Blood . Want to read on? Grab a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00XGX9IQ0/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
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Doctor Who: Royal Blood by Una McCormack (Preview)Science Fiction
"The Grail is a story, a myth! It didn't exist on your world! It can't exist here!" The city-state of Varuz is failing. Duke Aurelian is the last of his line, his capital is crumbling, and the armies of his enemy, Duke Conrad, are poised beyond the...