The planet looked beautiful from space when the Presidential ship slipped into orbit above it. On the ground, it was even more so. The landing party stepped out of the TARDIS onto a raised meadow with a magnificent view in every direction.

It was early evening and a pale blue sky of a pleasant day was starting to darken as the sun started to set. Two moons that had been pale in the sunlight were now taking on a deeper glow. One of them was a silver-white, the sort of moon Marion was familiar with. The other was a blood red.

“The red moon gives it’s name to the planet,” Kristoph told his wife. “SangC'lune – in the language of the people….”

“Yes, of course,” Marion said. “Like the French – Sang Lún.”

Rodan nodded in understanding, both of the French translation of the words and the importance of SangC'lune.

“The sacred planet of the Time Lords,” she whispered.

“Sacred?” Marion questioned. “Hence the regalia?”

Kristoph was very finely dressed in a robe of pure spun gold and a high collar that rose above his head. He had a jewelled cap and a cloak of maroon that completed the ensemble and he was wearing the Sash of Rassilon, the symbol of his Presidential power. He had brought it with him on the extended trip away from Gallifrey, but this was the first time he had worn it.

All of his staff were dressed in ceremonial gowns, too, though much less elaborate than his. Marion was dressed in a long, flowing, silver-white gown and a headdress of stiff white lace a little like an Elizabethan ruff. Rodan was wearing a smaller version of the same outfit. She stood proudly, with her head erect, like a young princess at Hampton Court.

“Over there,” Kristoph said, pointing towards a wide plain that stretched to the north below the meadow. Marion looked at what appeared to be a fantastic city made up of crystal pyramids. They radiated out from a central place. Those in the middle were jet black, while those closest to the edge of the city were brilliant white, catching the late sunlight magnificently.

“Is that where the people live?” she asked.

“No,” Kristoph answered. “It is the Plain of Pyramids. The souls of the Time Lords reside in those structures.”

Marion was puzzled. What could he possibly mean by that?

“Every transcended Time Lord who ever lived, and still lives, has a pyramid down there. They are ordered in the lines of their Houses. They are the last resting places of a Time Lord’s spent lives. His physical body at the end of all is generally cremated in high ceremony and careful observation of all the rites, but each time he regenerated the essence of the life that is done with flies to this place and resides in the pyramid.”

Marion looked at Kristoph, then looked down at what was, in that case, a city of the dead – almost. She remembered being told about his regenerations – eleven of them so far. Somewhere on that vast plain was a pyramid belonging to him, where his eleven previous lives were at peace.

At least she assumed they were.

“What do they do?”she asked. “Are they ‘sleeping’ or do they meditate or sit together in contemplation of some sort.”

“I imagine most of my lives were weary enough by the end to want to rest,” Kristoph confirmed. “My father, when he told me of this place, said he thought his past lives would be watching the stars and making calculations about them for eternity. HIS father, he told me, had declared that it would be a noisy place where his past lives were gathered, because they would all be talking about their exploits and trying to outdo each other for bravado.”

“Which do you think?”

“I’d settle for the sleep, with the occasional game of multi-dimensional chess with my past lives.”

Marion smiled. She had thought it a rather chilling idea, but Kristoph seemed to find it comforting. Perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea.

“Come and see,” he said. “There’s nothing to be afraid of, really.”

He reached out and took her hand. When it became clear that the Lord High President was going to visit the pyramids before the main purpose of their visit, his aides and secretaries formed a kind of procession in front of him. It was appropriate to go to the Plain in some kind of ceremony. Marion and Rodan walked at his side, solemnly. Rodan wasn’t apprehensive about it. She understood the purpose of this place.

“Do Time Lords come here a lot?” Marion asked in a low voice. To speak out loud would be like shouting in a cemetery. “To see their own pyramids.”

“No,” Kristoph answered. “Most live out all thirteen of their lives without ever visiting here physically. Few come here at all. It is restricted. There is a pre-industrial population who we may meet up with later. Non-interference with their way of life is one imperative. It is also thought that SangC'lune’s low-level psychic energy might be misused by the over-ambitious.”

“Low level psychic energy?”

“There is a field all around the planet, much like an ozone layer, but affecting the telepathic nerves of those races that are susceptible to it. For Gallifreyans, it is like having our mental faculties cleansed and enhanced. For the local people, it bestows a certain physical and mental health and a happy, contented life. For you, it ought to drive the last vestiges of illness away and renew your spirit.”

“I hadn’t thought about it, but I don’t feel quite so achy as I have for the last few days. I’ve enjoyed walking here.”

“There you go, then. It’s working.”

They didn’t talk at all as they reached the plain and walked among the pyramids. Kristoph slowed his pace. Marion and Rodan matched his step. The ‘roads’ between the huge structures were made of the same substance as the pyramids – something like thick, crystal glass. Where the pyramids were gleaming white, the pavement was white. Where they were black, the pavement was black.

“This is the pyramid of my grandfather, Chrístõ Dracœfire,” Kristoph said of a black pyramid that he stopped beside, bowing his head in respect. “The one who fought dragons and married a Ravenswode daughter, which was an even braver achievement than the dragons.”

“So all the others stretching back are your direct ancestors?”


Marion looked the other way. There were white ones that way. The first, of course, was that belonging to Kristoph’s father, Chrístõ de Lún. There was a slightly smaller one next to it. This, Kristoph explained, belonged to his aunt Thedera, who was one of the first women of the family to become a Time Lord in her own right.

There were two huge pyramids after that one. These belonged to Kristoph himself and his brother. Marion wondered about the third one.

“My beloved sister, Renita, achieved Transcension through her life of purity and contemplation. Orianna chose to be a wife of a Time Lord. The discipline required to transcend never appealed to her.”

“And… when we have a son – or a daughter – the next generation – they will have pyramids here?”

“They will.”

“Shall I?” Rodan asked. It was a logical question. Marion wondered why she hadn’t thought of it.

“You will,” Kristoph answered. “When you become a Candidate, your own pyramid will begin to form. When you transcend, as I am sure you will, it will be here on the Plain.”

Marion glanced around. Where would Rodan’s pyramid be? She wasn’t a true part of the De Lœngbærrow lineage.

“She is a child of our demesne,” Kristoph said. “It will be an offshoot of De Lœngbærrow. Rodan, you shall found your own dynasty, with their gleaming pyramids pointing to the blood moon.”

The idea pleased her. Why should it not? One thing quite obvious here was the aristocratic nature of these lineages. But Rodan’s Caretaker blood would come among them.

That was a thought that pleased Marion, too.

“Come,” Kristoph said. “We have other duties here.”

He turned with his entourage and climbed back to the high meadow. When they got there, they found a group of people in simple homespun clothes waiting. They knelt before Kristoph in homage.

“Rise, friends,” he answered. “We are come to perform one of the great rites in the temple of light. Join us if you wish, you and any of your people who wish to be present.”

“My Lord, thank you for that blessing,” answered the Elders. They fell into the procession along with the Gallifreyans as they headed in a different direction, towards a small hill with an oddly flat summit.

By the time they were climbing the grassy hill, what looked like the whole SangC'lune people were following. News had travelled fast.

“It’s getting dark, fast,” Marion pointed out. “Is this an open air ceremony? Won’t it be cold?”

“It’s not open air. You’ll be impressed. Wait and see.”

Marion was happy to wait. She was amazed that she was walking so far without difficulty. After the weeks of illness and recovery she was used to legs that felt weak as jelly. But here she was, feeling fit and healthy, and enjoying the walk under those twin moons as the sun dropped lower and lower.

The sun was a mere sliver on the horizon as they reached the top of the hill and Marion saw why it was flat. There was a ruined temple up there. Broken pillars, weathered by time, but still bearing signs of their fluted design were close by the places where they had once stood. There were fragments of walls, and something that must have been an altar at one time.

“An altar? But Time Lords don’t have that sort of religion.”

“It isn’t that sort of an altar,” Kristoph assured her. “It was where certain rites were performed. But it was destroyed millennia ago in an earthquake. It isn’t where we planned to hold tonight’s ceremony. This was just a place we built for the local people. The Time Lord temple is below it.”

Two of his aides were pulling at a large flagstone behind the altar. It made a grinding, resisting noise, but it came loose and they set it aside. One of them went down what proved to be a steep, dark stone staircase, lighting torches in metal braces along the walls as he went. The rest of the Gallifreyan contingency followed. Marion kept a tight hold of Rodan’s hand as they walked. The steps were very steep and went down a long way.

They levelled out, eventually, into a corridor of stone walls, floor and ceiling. Old plaster friezes with symbols Marion recognised from Gallifreyan history and literature were part of the friezes, though if they told any sort of story it had been broken up by time flaking the paint away.

“This one depicted a Rite of Mori,” Kristoph said, pointing to one of the more intact images. “A dying Time Lord gave his soul, along with all of his learning, the wisdom of his thirteen lives, to a young Time Lord in the moment of death. It is something that is done on rare occasions. In this instance, they came here to perform the ritual.”

“I see,” Marion answered him, though she didn’t exactly. “That’s not what we’re doing here, surely?”

“No,” Kristoph promised. “This is a little known and rarely performed rite of passage for a potential candidate. We’re going to introduce Rodan to our ancestors and get their approval of her candidacy before she goes to the Untempered Schism.”

“Oh.” Marion wasn’t sure how she felt about that.

“It’s a great honour for her,” Kristoph promised.

“Assuming the ancestors GIVE their approval.”

“They will.”

After a while the tunnel widened out and they stepped through a portal into a huge cavern. It was lit by so many torches that one man running ahead could not possibly have managed the job. Time Lord trickery was at work in them.

Time Lord trickery must have been at work when the cavern was created, too. It was far bigger than the low above it and too perfectly circular to be natural. They emerged onto a balcony overlooking the floor of the cavern. It ran all the way around with steps leading down.

“Come,” Kristoph said. Marion had wondered if she, a Human, was permitted to go down, but it seemed to be all right. When they reached the ground Kristoph showed Marion where to sit on the obsidian black floor close to a huge round altar. He brought Rodan forward and lifted her onto it. Marion thought that eerie at first. Visions of sacrifices at altars entered her mind. But Rodan was to kneel up on it, not lie down and there were no edged weapons in sight.

The Gallifreyans took up positions around the altar. Meanwhile the local people who had followed sat on the floor all around. They did so quietly and reverently.

The Gallifreyans began a chant in the Ancient and finest version of their language, kept for rituals like this. It was a haunting sound, gathering pitch and tempo. Marion felt her mind captured by it, as if it was hypnotising her.

She saw a light coalesce around the altar, around Rodan. She slowly stood up as it enveloped her. Marion saw her smile widely as her face was bathed in a golden aura. She saw her lips move as if speaking, but the words drowned by the chanting. She was in no danger. That much was certain. She was still smiling broadly as her feet left the altar and she floated above it for a while.

The whole thing took about an hour. Then Rodan slowly descended and her feet touched the altar again. She knelt as the light faded and the chanting got lower and slower and gradually stopped, the last voice echoing around the cavern until it faded away.

“Well done, my dear girl,” Kristoph said, lifting Rodan off the altar and sending her back to Marion who hugged her tightly after assuring herself that the ritual caused no harm.

“What was it like?” she asked the little girl. But Rodan couldn’t explain in any language that Marion would understand. It was something only a Time Lord or a Time Lord candidate was meant to know.

“I talked to a man,” she managed to tell her. “The man with the wolf in the picture in papa’s study.”

“My great grandfather, the Tenacious Wolf!” Kristoph exclaimed joyfully. “Well, I never. We really did reach our ancestors.”

“He said he was glad I was going to be a Candidate,” Rodan answered.

“As well he should be,” Kristoph told her. “Come along, my dear girl. I think we’re all ready for some supper, now.”

The locals had that in hand. They led the way back out of the cavern and up to the ruined temple again. The Gallifreyan party followed them in the moonlight back to the village of mostly wooden, single floor buildings. In the very centre of the community was a green square with a much bigger building at one end. This was the Hall of Welcome, Kristoph explained. It was for the Living God from Gallifrey and his kin to rest after their rituals.

“You mean us?” Marion was surprised.

“Yes. The SangC'lune people regard Time Lords as gods. We have always been so. They are ready to pay homage to us, now, with food and wine while they, too, feast outside in celebration of our visit.”

So it appeared. The people of SangC'lune were setting up a feast of food and drink on the green, to which they invited Kristoph’s staff. Meanwhile the Lord High President and his wife and child were brought into the cool, sweetly scented hall where their own feast was laid out on a low, wide table. A handmaiden helped Marion take off the sophisticated collar, and a man did the same for Kristoph before they sat on silk cushions to enjoy their meal. Afterwards, the handmaidens helped Marion and Rodan to get ready for bed in cool, soft silk shifts. Kristoph was similarly attended.

There was a huge bed for the President and his wife, and a smaller one for Rodan. They were perfectly comfortable.

“What about your men?” Marion asked as she stretched under the silk sheets. “Where are they sleeping?”

“They will have been taken into the homes of the people. Hospitality is their watchword. They will be treated well.”

“These people CAN afford to give us all the food and everything, can’t they? We haven’t used up all of their winter supplies?”

“I don’t believe there IS a winter on this planet,” Kristoph assured her. “And food is always abundant. It is about as close to paradise as any planet I know. The people are humble, hard-working, happy and free. Another reason to restrict visitors who might want to stay and alter that pleasant state.”

With that, he climbed into bed beside his wife and wished his foster child goodnight. Tomorrow he would, he said, talk to some of the people of SangC'lune and give them his blessings as their living god, and then they would depart.

“We’re going home,” Marion said with a satisfied sigh. “Home to Gallifrey.”