Marion got through the dismal day somehow. She didn’t mind being host to so many guests, even Oriana, who was too frightened to be much trouble. But the fear and the nervous tension was affecting everyone by the time they retired to their beds. After she checked on Rodan, Marion spent a little time on the bedroom videophone, talking to Lily. She was as shocked as any of them by the news from Gallifrey. Marion warned her to stay in Liverpool with Li. She was safer there.

“I will stay a few more days,” she said. “But we must all hope that this is resolved soon. Marion, why don’t you join me? You can come through the portal.”

“I can’t take Rodan through the portal. Kristoph still hasn’t got registration for her. And I won’t leave her behind at a time like this. Besides… I think I am supposed to be here… doing my duty as a Lady of Gallifrey, as wife of the Patriarch of our House. How would it look if I ran away?”

“Do take care, Marion,” Lily told her. “These are dark days for Gallifrey. An echo of even darker ones. May the light come back to us, soon.”

Marion said goodbye to Lily. She felt a little lonely afterwards, and she was glad when Kristoph finally came to their room. Tonight, he had taken upon himself the task of checking all the doors and windows of the house that were usually the job of the senior male servants.

“You look tired,” Marion told him as he quickly prepared for bed.

“I am. Though I have given orders… if there are developments. At least I can rest for a few hours.” He looked at his wife as she got into bed. “I am sorry for all of this. Especially expecting you to put up with Oriana. I know you dislike her…”

“I really didn’t mind that,” she answered. “I just…” She sighed deeply. “I used to live a dull, ordinary life. I had no expectations except of getting my degree, teaching college, a job in a school. But nobody ever tried to kidnap me. I never had to run from terrorists. I was never shot at. And… even though Liverpool is reputed to be a violent city… I never knew anyone who was murdered there. Now… Idell last year… Lady Ravenswode… that’s two people I know who have been murdered. Right now I am feeling so frightened. And so out of my depth.”

“Marion…” Kristoph reached to hold her tightly. “When you put it like that… I feel as if I’ve done a terrible injustice to you. I’ve put your life in such peril, so very often.”

“I love you, Kristoph. I love Gallifrey. I don’t regret being here with you. Don’t think anything else for a minute. But this is… the most frightened I have ever felt in my life. I’ve never had soldiers patrolling outside my home before. Kristoph, this is all just so horrible.”

Kristoph knew there was very little he could say to make her feel better. He was uneasy himself. The whole of Gallifrey was uneasy. There wasn’t a household affected by this news. All he could do was hold her tight and hope his love was enough comfort for her this time. “You’re safe with the Guards outside, and me here beside you. Sleep well, my love. And let the morning bring better news.”

She clung to him as she closed her eyes to sleep. He pressed himself close to her and hoped that the morning really would bring relief from this anxiety.

It was only two hours later when Caolin shook him awake and brought news that gripped his hearts. He tried not to wake Marion, but she stirred as he moved away from her.

“What’s happened?” she asked, suddenly wide awake. “What is it?”

“Lily’s home has been attacked. She was not there, of course. But there are deaths… her servants fought back. Some are injured. I am going over there with Castellan Braxiatel to see what can be done.”

“Take care,” Marion told him. “Should I call Lily? She should know.”

“Not until I know how bad it is,” Kristoph replied. “Don’t let’s worry her mind until we know the worst. You go back to sleep, my love. It will do no good for you to be lying awake worrying.”

He dressed quickly and went to do his duty. She tried to go back to sleep, hugging the pillow that his head had rested upon. Usually she slept well in that comfortable bed. But the anxieties of the day still weighed on her and she took a long time to drop off. And then her sleep was fitful and troubled.

She woke up a little while later and felt that there was someone in the room. By the moonlight coming through the window she saw a figure leaning over the bed.

“Kristoph?” she asked. Then her heart jolted. She felt a rough hand on her mouth and a stranger’s voice swearing foully at her and warning her not to scream. The pressure of his hand increased and she thought he was going to suffocate her.

He was wearing a Chancellery Guard uniform. She recognised the fabric as he pulled back the blankets from the bed and pressed his body over hers. That was how he got into the house, of course, pretending to be one of those who were there to protect them. How simple, how easy that had been. The one way of penetrating their defences that nobody even considered.

“Acutually, I AM a Chancellery Guard,” he whispered hoarsely. “That’s how easy it was. I’ve been part of the manhunt looking for me! The fools. They have no idea. And now… now I have you. wife of the Lœngbærrow heir, wife of the Southern Magister… and I am going to enjoy this.”

Marion closed her eyes and tried to think of anything but what was happening to her right now. She suppressed a sob. She knew he would care little for her sorrow. She wished it was happening anywhere but here, in the bed where she and Kristoph knew blissful marital love. She was powerless to stop him. His hand was pressed against her throat and he could break her neck in an instant if she struggled or cried out. She had to submit silently to the worst possible humiliation and degradation. Her very skin recoiled from him, her body shuddered with hatred of what he was doing to her. But he just laughed and pressed her down even harder and more cruelly.

“Please let somebody come,” she thought. “A servant, one of the Guards. Kristoph… no, not him. I don’t want him to see this. please let somebody come before he kills me.”

She knew that was what he intended to do when he had finished hurting her this way. She knew she could expect no mercy from him. She knew now what Milla Ravenswode had gone through. She, too, must have felt the same repugnance, the same humiliation at his hands. She, too, must have hoped for rescue, and there was none.

“No,” he said. “No, I’m not going to kill you, yet. Oh, don’t worry. I will, eventually. But there’s somebody else I want. And you can take me to her. That’s what the servant I found at her house said. You can lead me to where the Argenlunna woman is hiding.”

He stood up. Marion allowed herself a sigh of relief knowing that this part of her ordeal was over, at least. He reached and pulled her from the bed, making her stand up, shoeless and in her crumpled nightdress.

“Not a sound, unless you want others to die. Any servant who comes running to you will be killed. Now, show me how to get to the other one. Her servant said there was a portal. She swore that was the truth before I killed her. A portal in this house. So take me to it and don’t even think of trying anything clever.”

Marion nodded. She didn’t know what else to do. He could kill her easily. And she desperately wanted to live. Besides, if he wanted to go through the portal, then there might be a chance. Lily was with Li. And Li could defeat this cruel man. She knew he could.

“Take me there,” he repeated.

He pushed her out of the bedroom. She almost cried out in horror as she saw a body lying on the landing carpet. It was one of the Chancellery Guard, one of this one’s colleagues who must have trusted him. She felt a relief that it wasn’t one of the servants that she knew, then a twinge of guilt for thinking that. The dead man was a stranger to her, but he was somebody’s husband, son, father, and they would grieve for him.

“This way,” she managed to say as she passed the nursery door, hoping that Rodan and her night nurse were safe. She tried not to think about them in the presence of this murdering beast. She opened the door to the room that was empty except for a huge old fashioned wardrobe put there with a nod to literary appropriateness. She pointed to it.

“That’s it,” she said. “You just have to push the dial right across to the end and press the button.”

“You’re doing that,” he said. “You’re coming with me to make sure.” He pushed her in front of him into the wardrobe and pressed her down into the seat by the controls. “Don’t think you can escape when we get there. You’re going to watch me ravish the other woman and then kill her. Then it will be your turn. My master would do that. Make his victims watch what was coming to them in their turn.”

“Your master was a sick, sick man. And so are you,” Marion managed to say. “And… my husband will hunt you down and kill you slowly and painfully if you…”

There was light enough inside the portal capsule for her to see her attacker properly for the first time. He was young looking, but with a twisted, cruel expression on his face and eyes that burned with hatred for her, for Kristoph, for all of Gallifreyan society. He was a murderer and worse and her life was in his hands.

“Set the course,” he said. “Hurry.”

“I'm doing it,” she answered. She turned the dial to the end and then pressed the button, just as she had said. It was a simple control for her to operate without any help.

It took about ten minutes to reach Earth by portal. That was why there were comfortable chairs in the capsule. Marion put her hands over her ears and screwed her eyes closed, trying to block out the sight and sound of the Son of Gellovia screaming horribly as his body was shredded. She pressed herself back into the chair and hoped it would be over soon. She felt no sorrow for the dying man. Not after the things he had done to her and wanted to do to so many others. But she wished he would die soon, so that the awful sound would stop.

Then it stopped. The remnant of his body slumped to the floor. Marion edged around it and opened the door into the little flat that she and Lily had furnished and decorated. The flat in Liverpool. She fell to her knees, giving way to the nausea that overwhelmed her. When that was over, she crawled to the bedside. She grasped the telephone and managed to dial the one number where she could be sure of help.

“Li…” she cried weakly. “Li… help me…” Then she passed out from exhaustion, the phone still in her hand.

When she came around, she was lying in the bed. She was in a clean nightdress and somebody had washed her. She heard Lily’s voice speaking to her gently. Then Li’s voice, too. He lifted her head and made her drink something that tasted like cinnamon and violets.

“It’s just one of my potions,” he assured her. “You’ve had a bad shock. It will help.”

“Li… in the portal… the body,” she said.

“Yes. I know. I’ve dealt with it. Marion, did you know that would happen if an unlicensed user tried to use a static portal?”

“No, I didn’t,” she answered. “I know Kristoph is trying to arrange for me to be able to take Rodan in it. But I thought it was just… I don’t know… a really big fine or suspension of use of the portal or… I never… Oh, it was horrible.”

“The portal only works for those users whose DNA are encrypted into it. Anyone else, their bodies are…”

“Turned inside out!” Marion gasped sickly as she remembered. “I saw it happen. He was in agony.”

“He deserved it,” Lily said with uncharacteristic venom. “The atomising chamber would have been kinder. It’s much quicker. And you would not have had to witness it first hand. But I’m not sorry he’s dead. I heard what he did to Milla Ravenswode. And…”

She stopped. Li touched her arm.

“You’re safe now, Marion,” he said. “It’s over.”

There was a familiar, welcome sound as he spoke. Kristoph’s TARDIS materialised next to the portal. He stepped out and came to Marion’s side at once. She reached gladly to him as he kissed her.

“You were very brave, sweetheart,” he told her. “I am so sorry I wasn’t there to protect you. Forgive me.”

“Of course I do,” she said. “It… wasn’t so bad. He scared me. He was rough and horrible. And seeing him die was… gruesome. But I'm all right. Really I am.”

“Li thinks you need to sleep some more,” Kristoph told her. “When you have, you and Lily can come home by TARDIS. The portal will be out of action for a few days. It will need a full service before you can use it again.”

She lay down and closed her eyes. She felt safe. She felt sleepy, and thought it was probably the potion Li had given her. But three people she loved were near her and the fear was gone. She was glad to go to sleep.

Kristoph stepped away from the bed when he knew she was soundly sleeping. He looked at his two friends.

“He DID rape her?”

“Yes,” Li answered him solemnly. “But she doesn’t remember that. I modified her memory. She only remembers him manhandling her from her bed and forcing her into the portal. And the drug I put into her drink… it will ensure there are no other consequences.”

Kristoph nodded grimly. Lily sighed at the necessity of such a precaution. Then all three of them dismissed the thought from their heads. It was something they would never talk about.

“Thank you, my friends,” Kristoph said to Li and Lily. They all reflected on the grief that one man’s madness had wrought. Milla Ravenswode’s death, two of Lily’s man servants, her personal maid tortured before she was killed. Then the Chancellery Guards who had been slaughtered at Mount Lœng House. Those were consequences enough.

But at least Marion was safe. Kristoph counted his blessings.