Roleplaying with Doctor Who!

Teaser: “Nineveh”

SLOWLY, PAINFULLY, the Doctor opened his eyes. His mind was fogged, as though he was waking from an aeons-long slumber. He was laying prone, and his body ached like it had never ached before. His fingers scratched at the ground, clawing up cracked flakes of dried mud. Gazing directly upwards, the sky above was almost impossibly black, with not a single star in sight.

The night-black sky.

The phrase propelled itself into the Doctor’s head, intruding into his confused thoughts.

The dark of Nineveh.

Nineveh. The name was familiar, but he wasn’t sure why.

Slowly, the Doctor sat up so he could begin to take in his surroundings. He was in a barren, arid, dead landscape. Fog clung to occasional outcrops of jagged rock. Stray weeds and vines scattered them and the dusty ground, all of them dead and desiccated. The air was still; it tasted stale. As stale as death itself.

“You know this place, Doctor,” he said to himself. “Think! For once in your life, remember!”

With a deep breath that stung his throat, the Doctor stiffly pulled himself to his feet. His limbs ached. Looking down at his clothes, he could see he was rather the worse for wear. His linen suit was filthy. Retrieving his Panama from the ground next to him, he was unimpressed to find it horribly singed. Nonetheless, he returned it to his head, thus steeling himself for whatever fresh challenge this ruinous landscape held in store for him. He thrust his hands into his pockets and felt the reassuring form of his sonic screwdriver.

“That’s odd,” he said out loud. “Didn’t you give that to John?”

He shrugged off the thought, turning his focus back to his surroundings. As he did so, the Doctor couldn’t escape the nagging sense that this place wasn’t quite as it seemed. In the far distance, he could make out dim, bluish, twinkling lights. Yet this world felt enclosed somehow, like he was inside a hollowed-out moon or planet. It was deathly quiet.

Some call it the zone of silence,
where dreams die unfulfill’d,
where every chord and cadence
of the song of life is still’d.

With the remembrance of this verse, a growing sense of dread began to overcome the Doctor. Scraps of recent memories came into his mind then, vivid and terrifying. John Riddell, his face grave, saying farewell: “Good luck, Doctor.” A Dalek overseer looming over him, its gun stalk twitching. A sense of power and import, a resolve to destroy the Ark of Skaro at all costs. And something else. Something yet more upsetting and terrible. Something inescapable.

And then it came to him, as his mind flashed the memory of being enveloped by a Dalek death ray. Of convulsing in agony. Of being entirely alone, in the depths of a mountain, on Greylock, at the mercy of his mortal enemies. Now he knew what his mind had sought to withhold from him. He was dead.

Still more memories came to him then, overwhelming waves of painful remembrances that flooded his damaged brain, firing long-forgotten synapses.

“Oh, Doctor. You do know this place. All Time Lords know this place.”

As this sudden, piercingly clarity of thought overwhelmed the Doctor with an eldritch sense of dread, a ghostly figure coalesced on the horizon. It was blurry and indistinct, yet instinctively the Doctor recognised it. Its form become clearer even as he did so. Now, he could make out the gauzy white shroud in which it was draped. It seemed to loom over him, even from this distance. It gestured slowly but purposefully, beckoning him towards it.

So walk the ages, Time Lord.

This phrase, then suddenly the rhyme arrived fully-formed in the Doctor’s mind. A childhood memory, etched throughout his lives, buried in the darkest recesses of his mind, yet now overwhelming. Almost without realising it, he began to murmur the poem to himself, even as he started to take faltering, unsteady steps towards the spectre.

Let the heavens cast their spray of light
across the night-black sky,
‘twill not touch the dark of Nineveh,
where Time Lords go to die.

Twelve rejuvenations all,
and not a season more,
hath been the lot of Gallifrey
since darker days of yore.

Some call it the zone of silence,
where dreams die unfulfill’d,
where every chord and cadence
of the song of life is still’d.

Others talk of timeless joy
and venerate the day
that they might cut the skein of life
upon dark Nineveh.

So walk the ages, Time Lord,
and disregard the sign,
but know that where the Watcher waits,
so waits the end of time.

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