The TARDIS materialised in an alleyway that was so hemmed in by buildings either side that it was dull and shadowy even on the brightest day. This was not a bright day. It was dusk on a foggy day in London in the third decade of Victoria’s reign, when industrial pollution and the new railway system were turning the fog into smog.

Chrístõ and his companions stepped out of their time and space travelling machine and admired its disguise as a doorway into the side of the house on the left hand side. Only the TS symbol near the lock distinguished it from any side door of any building in London.

“Where are we exactly?” Julia asked, smoothing down the wide satin skirt of her early Victorian dress. She and Glenda were ready to enjoy the fashions, at least. Cal and Chrístõ both looked handsome in tight fitting trousers with waistcoat and jacket.

“We’re near Paternoster Row, hard by St. Pauls,” Chrístõ answered. “I used to know London well a few years ago. It was almost possible to know my direction by the smells. The incense from Evensong is just on the edge of my olfactory senses.”

“And Paternoster Row is important because….”

“It is the centre of the bookseller’s trade in London, and my information is that a trader in rare works has possession of the last of the Annals.”

“The quest draws to a close,” Cal noted.

“Unless Paracell’s old tutor is correct and there IS a seventh book dedicated, like Aristotle’s lost work, to comedy,” Chrístõ added. “But of the books we know of, the fifth and sixth are here, somewhere.”

“It’s a bit late for them to be open,” Julia pointed out.

“Yes, I know. But I have a note of introduction. I was hoping to conduct a private transaction.”

With the dome of St. Pauls Cathedral looming up through the smog before them, he led his friends along the elegant Georgian row of three storey businesses with shops on the ground floor and comfortable living quarters above. He stopped by the premises of Mssrs Anderson and Waen, rare booksellers at number 21 Paternoster Row.

“This is the place,” he said.

“Chrístõ, something is not right here,” Cal told him. “That door is not fully closed, and I sense pain and distress within. I think….”

“Girls, carry on walking,” Chrístõ said urgently. “The service is coming to an end, but the Cathedral will still be open for private prayer. There will be people around. You will be safe.”

Julia and Glenda were about to protest, but they remembered how hard it was to get out of the TARDIS door in their crinolines and how impossible it would be to run in these cumbersome clothes. They would be better staying out of any dangerous situation. They walked on down the road to where the Cathedral emerged fully from the gloom and they were among devout people who would not cause them harm.

Chrístõ pushed the door open carefully and he and Cal stepped into the bookshop. The front part of the shop where elegantly bound volumes were on sale was lit only by a single gas lamp that had been turned down low. They could see brighter light under the closed door to the back room where the books would be valued and perhaps repaired.

“The pain is coming from in there,” Cal told his mentor telepathically, though he didn’t need to be told. He could sense it strongly now. Again they opened the door quietly and slowly, but there was no longer any threat, only a dying man lying in a pool of blood. Sending the girls on away from this scene was a good decision.

Chrístõ knelt at the man’s side and quickly examined him. Even without his medical knowledge he would have seen that it was too late. The victim had moments to live.

“You’re a Cerrelan?” He recognised the unique internal anatomy of an alien who, like himself, could walk unnoticed among the people of London before they were aware of other species in the universe. Cerrelans had their hearts on the opposite side of their body and four pairs of kidneys. Three of those kidneys and the heart were pierced by a dagger, which told Chrístõ that the murderer was an alien, too, somebody who knew how to kill a Cerrelan.

“I am…. The… Keeper…. of the Books,” the Cerrelan managed to tell him. “The books you came for, Time Lord.”

Cerrelans also possessed strong extra-sensory powers. That was why Cal had picked up on his pain from outside the shop. He had been sending a mental distress signal.

“You knew I was coming?”

“All the.. Book…keepers know. I was…. ready for you. But the Thief… the Thief came first. I….”

“Let me see,” Chrístõ told him as speech became difficult. He pressed his hand against the dying man’s forehead and read his recent memories. The Thief had come into the shop wearing a hooded cloak, his face hidden. The man who called himself Mr Waen ran into the back room to warn his partner, who went by the name of Anderson, then he turned and tried to fight off the intruder, giving Anderson time to escape.

“He took the last two Annals of Rassilon?” Chrístõ asked. He felt the answer in his mind. “Where to?”

The answer took the last of his strength. Chrístõ had other questions, but they weren’t coming from the thoughts or the words of Mr Waen.

“Thank you for your courage,” he told him. “Go to your afterlife in peace, friend.”

Those were the last words the Cerrelan heard in this life. Whether there WAS an afterlife for his kind, as they believed, was not Chrístõ’s concern. He reached to close the dead eyes but didn’t disturb the body in any other way.

“Upstairs, there was a Whyte-Merx time-space capsule, a more primitive version of a TARDIS. Mr Anderson used it to get away, bringing the Annals with him. I know where he went, but if the killer has the sort of technology I suspect he has, then he may also know. We have to work fast to save another life.”

“We’d better get the girls, then,” Cal suggested.

“No, we’ll leave them where they are for now. They’re safe. They will be even safer in a moment.”

He reached in his pocket and drew out a mobile phone that he had bought in early twenty-first century Liverpool and dialled a number that shouldn’t even exist in this age when the telephone was still to be invented.

“Madam,” he said when the call was answered. “Sorry to disturb you, but would you pop along to the Cathedral and keep an eye on two young ladies who are visiting there. If they seem to want to leave, introduce yourself and suggest that they come back to your house for a light supper, but don’t let them know I’ve left London.”

“Who was that?” Cal asked.

“A friend who happens to live close by,” Chrístõ answered. “I wasn’t going to bother her. This was a straightforward business transaction. But when it comes to chaperoning young ladies in a possibly dangerous situation, there is nobody I would trust more.”

“A friend?” Chrístõ was being evasive about the nature of the friend and Cal’s curiosity was piqued, but there was no time to explain if they were to save Mr Anderson from death.

“Who are the Bookkeepers?” Cal asked when they were back at the TARDIS and Chrístõ was setting a new co-ordinate with quick hands at a keyboard that was fully able to cope with his typing speed.

“I have no idea,” he admitted. “But they seem to hold the Annals in such high regard that one of them died for them.”

The TARDIS materialised in a very short time in what Chrístõ recognised as the Phoenix Park in Dublin, having visited the city in at least three different eras. It was winter on this occasion, with snow lying on the meadows and frosting the trees and hedges that divided formal gardens from informal. The two men looked around and saw an ornamental fence that marked the boundary of the American Embassy in Ireland. The number of stars on the flag flying on the roof and the style of the limousines parked near the building placed them in the late twentieth century.

“We’re a couple of miles away from where we need to be, though,” Chrístõ admitted. “There was a very slight spatial slip as we moved a hundred and twenty years and some four hundred miles. The presence of Mr Anderson’s transport in the city might account for it. The TARDIS gave it a sufficiently wide berth to prevent a paradox.”

He led the way through the snow to a wide thoroughfare which had been cleared of snow. That, after a brisk walk, led to Parkgate and the Coyningham Road. Chrístõ looked hopefully for a taxi rank. Instead he found a bus stop. That was far from his ideal way to travel, but there was a bus approaching and it would do.

He wasn’t sure how much the bus journey ought to cost, or if he had the right coinage, anyway. He waved his psychic paper under the machine that read the pre-paid passes of regular travellers before he and Cal sat down near the front of the bus and it moved off….

…travelling about twenty yards before stopping again at a tailback of cars, buses, lorries and vans all at the mercy of a set of traffic lights.

Twenty minutes later they were crawling towards another junction in another traffic jam when Chrístõ decided he’d had enough. He took his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and carefully adjusted it on his lap before aiming it at the junction box that controlled the traffic lights ahead. Immediately every light turned red except the one that favoured their journey. The same happened at the next junction and the next in a cascade of green lights and stopped traffic that provided a clear road ahead all the way to their destination at Merchant’s Quay.

Within two decades, much of this area would be redeveloped into modern glass and steel that would reflect the grey-blue sky and the green-grey water of the River Liffey in all of its facets yet still remain soulless and inorganic. As yet, Merchant’s Quay, along with the rest of the quays along both sides of the river, were a faded echo of a more glorious past.

Among the shops occupying the ground floors of these soon to be condemned buildings were a number of second hand bookshops. Chrístõ found the one the dying Mr Waen had directed him to – Peter McDermott’s Rare Books.

“I think we’re too late,” Cal said as they stepped into the shop and found a scene no rare book seller could have looked upon without crying. Almost every book had been thrown from the shelves, some of them ripped to shreds. It was a terrible sacrilege to anyone who loved the printed word.

“Up there,” Chrístõ said, looking at the moulded plaster ceiling. He had felt the telepathic cry sharply in his mind, but this time it wasn’t the last gasp of a dying man, merely one who was desperately scared.

“It’s all right, we’re not going to hurt you,” Cal called out to the chameleon-like figure pressed against the ceiling and camouflaged in the colour and texture of the plaster. He was clinging onto the ceiling by suckers on the ends of his fingers and toes. “You can come down, now.”

The strange character stretched his already slender body until it was touching both the ceiling and the floor, then let go with his hands and sprang back into a more normal size. The colours and textures of a Human flowed back into his body.

“Are you Mr Peter McDermott, and are you a Book-Keeper?” Chrístõ asked him.

“Yes,” he answered. “You’re a Time Lord. I could feel you when you came into the shop. You are seeking the Great Books?”

“Yes, I am. But I’m guessing I’m too late.”

“Anderson thought they would be safe here, but he barely had time to tell me what happened in London before the Thief came. He escaped. I hid… as you saw.”

“Do you know where Anderson planned to go next?” Cal asked him.

“Yes, I think so,” McDermott answered. “At least I know it can be one of two places.”

“Good, tell me that now,” Chrístõ said. “And then explain who you Book Keepers are and who the Thief is, and why you or him want the Annals of Rassilon.”

McDermott looked around his ruined bookshop sadly then suggested that they come into the back room where he could give them tea while he explained. Chrístõ felt that the matter was urgent and he ought to get after Anderson before he suffered the same fate as his former partner, but at the same time he needed to know exactly what all this was about.

“I’ve got biscuits,” McDermott said, for all the world as if he was just entertaining two guests with no important mission at stake. “Jacobs fig rolls. Do you know they were first made right here in Dublin, at the Jacob’s factory in Bishop’s Street.”

“I know,” Chrístõ answered him. “I used to like them when I was a little boy and my parents paid social visits to the Earth Ambassador on Ventura. He would always have fig rolls put out for me to eat. But, please… the Book Keepers.”

“There were four of them originally,” McDermott said. “One was my great-great grandfather, the first Allerian to settle on this planet. One was a Cerrelan, ancestor of Wean and Anderson. The third was Uzellian and the last a Bezzanite – all species that could pass for Human at a glance, all living here on Earth.”

“Why Earth?” Cal asked. “We found two of the first four Annals on this planet already. It’s strange that the last two are here, also.”

“Earth in any age is by far the most populated planet of its size,” McDermott explained. “Its cultures are so varied and colourful. It is so easy to be inconspicuous here. The Great Books were safe for many centuries. It is known that two were retrieved by the Time Lords – the one left in Ancient Alexandria and the one that was hidden in plain sight in the New World, but two others left the planet by accident. We who received the burden and the honour from our Forefathers dedicated our lives to preserving the last two Great Books until a Time Lord returned for them.”

“Which I have done,” Chrístõ said. “But who gave your ancestors the job of protecting them in the first place?”

“Why, Lord, do you not know?” McDermott was surprised. “It was the greatest of your great race, the Great Lord Rassilon, who saw that the Annals were hidden. He knew that there was an enemy who could use the power he had imbued them with to darken the skies for eternity. For that reason he hid them until one who was worthy of the destiny… one of his own blood… would find them again.”

“Oh, sweet mother of chaos,” Chrístõ swore. “I didn’t know this was all about destiny. I thought it was just a collection of very rare and important books.”

“But there is no doubt that YOU are the one who was meant to find them,” Cal reminded him. “Rather than Le Marrant who is of a dishonoured name. You are of Rassilon’s own noble and ancient line, and you bear the Mark of Rassilon.”

“Don’t remind me,” Chrístõ said, another colourful expression hovering on his lips. “But WHAT of this Thief. Where does HE come into it all?”

“The descendent of the Bezzanite… Gellus Mazzina.… He became corrupted by the thought of the power within the Great Books. He broke the vow of protection and set out, instead, to take all of the Books for his own use. He has not succeeded, and with the will of the Ancients, and by the blood of the faithful, if it must be so, he will not succeed. You have the Four. Now you must get to Anderson before it is too late.”

“Then why are we sitting here drinking tea and eating…” Cal looked at the packet of biscuits curiously. “…eating fig rolls, whatever they are supposed to be? Surely we ought to be getting back to the TARDIS?”

“The TARDIS is a time machine, Cal,” Chrístõ reminded him. “I regret that our delay in this timeline allowed Mazzina an advantage, but we WILL catch up next time. Besides, we now, at least, know what this is all about.”

Nonetheless, as soon as it seemed civil to do so, Chrístõ told McDermott that they had to leave. He hesitated in the front of the shop where so much damage had been done.

“He was so angry to have missed his chance here,” McDermott explained as he viewed the devastation sadly. “He destroyed what is dear to all of us – the printed word.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Chrístõ said. “And I only wish I could stay to help. But….”

“Your mission is the greater one. Go, my Lord, with my hopes to speed you.”

“This time we take a taxi,” Chrístõ announced as he stepped out of the shop into the chill air of an Irish winter. “There’s a rank on O’Connell Street. This way.”

He was quiet on the journey back to Phoenix Park. Apart from ensuring that the traffic lights were in their favour the whole way – something that astonished the taxi driver – he was deep in thoughts that Cal could not penetrate even if he had made a concerted effort to do so.

Only when they were safe within the TARDIS and on their way to what they hoped was the last destination, the place where they would catch up with both Anderson and Mazzina, did he feel he could share his thoughts with his friend.

“Am I doing the right thing by bringing these books together?” he asked. “I wonder if I should have trusted Le Marrant after all. It seems as if Rassilon wanted them to be kept apart.”

“Because of an enemy he thought might use them for evil.”

“Quite apart from wondering what exactly is IN these books that gives them such power….” Chrístõ shook his head. “What if the enemy wasn’t of his own time? What if we end up delivering them into the hands of the one Rassilon meant never to see them?”

“But if you don’t, this traitor will use them. Maybe HE is the enemy Rassilon meant.”

“I don’t know what to do for the best,” Chrístõ admitted.

“You’re going to have to figure it out,” Cal told him. “You’re the one… the Son of Rassilon and all of that.”

Chrístõ again swallowed some Low Gallifreyan curses and smiled at his friend.

“You are right. I must decide. But first I must HAVE all of the Annals. Two of them, and a brave man, are already in danger. That is our first priority.”

The TARDIS materialised on a Parisian street, immediately disguising itself as one of those colourful poster covered advertising posts unique to the French capital. The street was wide and busy with traffic and pedestrians. Many of those pedestrians were heading into a beautiful building which Chrístõ had already identified as the Grand Palais – as opposed to the Petit Palais directly opposite. Neither were ‘palaces’ in the usual sense. They both dated from the early twentieth century when the kings and emperors of France were long dispensed with. They were exhibition halls, themselves examples of the finest French architecture, the Grand Palais having a glass and iron roof emulating the Crystal Palace of Joseph Paxton and a magnificently palatial entrance by the Frenchman, Henri Deglane.

A sign above the entrance door and banners fluttering in the breeze upon rows of flagpoles proclaimed that the ‘Salon de Livre ‘91’ was in full swing here at the Grand Palais.

“A book fair?” Cal queried. “In a place like this?” he had heard of such things, but the assembly hall of the New Canberra High School was by far the largest venue he had known.

“A very big book fair. Where better? Hundreds of exhibits related to the written word. Where else would a Book Keeper go?” Chrístõ strode towards the entrance with the same self-confidence he approached palaces of the usual kind. Cal kept up with him as they stepped from a warm, sunny street into the cool, air-conditioned exhibition hall. The noise of thousands of visitors and hundreds of exhibitors with their high-tech video displays and audio-visual presentations was overwhelming to the aural senses.

Chrístõ closed his eyes and mentally shut out the sounds. He reached out across the huge hall to find the telepathic mind of the Book Keeper.

“He’s here,” he said. “I can feel his anxiety.”

“He has reason,” Cal added. “There is another mind. Do you feel it? An evil mind, seeking him out.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered. “You keep your mind focussed on that one, while I find Anderson and the two Annals. He still has them. I know he does. I can feel their presence, too.”

“Keeping my mind focussed on him isn’t enough,” Cal answered. “Somebody needs to intercept him – to give you time to get Anderson to safety.”

“That man is a murderer,” Chrístõ reminded his friend. “You can’t….”

“Yes, I can,” Cal retorted. “I’m not a cosseted child of Gallifrey who spent two hundred years at school. I had to fight to live, remember. I can look after myself.”

“We’ve no time to argue. Go on. But be careful. Glenda will kill me if anything happens to you. And Julia will step on my body afterwards – in heels.”

Cal grinned and disappeared into the crowd. Chrístõ carefully orientated himself and then headed to where Anderson and the last two precious Annals were.

Anderson had chosen a good place for their rendezvous, Chrístõ thought as he wound his way through the crowds. Or a very bad one. On the one hand, the packed aisles of the fair made it easy to hide in plain sight, and made it difficult for the Enemy to find him.

On the other hand, if the Enemy was desperate enough, he might use a weapon that could cause many innocent casualties. Above all, that had to be prevented.

This worst case scenario worried Chrístõ as he closed in mentally upon the man who had protected the Annals through three time zones, now. Anderson was in peril of his life, and he had to reach him in time to protect him.

Then he saw him. The man stood out from the crowds not only because of the large and old-fashioned satchel that he carried with the strap across his shoulder, but also by the way he walked, purposefully, while everyone else was strolling casually, stopping to look at exhibitions and listen to special sales pitches. For a brief moment, their eyes almost met. There was the very slightest of nods from Anderson and he changed direction, heading towards a corridor on the east flank of the centre that led to the administrative offices.

“It’s all right,” Chrístõ called to him when they were both in the relative quiet of the corridor. “I’m the Time Lord you’ve been expecting. You can give the Annals to me. You’ve done your duty faithfully, and I thank you for that, but you will be in terrible danger as long as you have them with you.”

“You are the Time Lord?” Anderson looked at him with wide eyes – wider than any Human, betraying his alien origins. “I… expected a much older man. I never knew there were young Time Lords.”

“Old Time Lords begin as young Time Lords,” Chrístõ answered. He held out his hands. “Do you want to give them to me, now? We know that the Enemy is here in this place. You will be free of your burden in a moment once you give the Annals to me.”

“Chrístõ!” He felt Cal’s telepathic voice as a rather painful stab in his brain. The urgency of his message overrode any attempt to curb the intensity. “Chrístõ, I have Anderson and the Uzellian Book Keeper. They’re both injured, but I think they’ll live. Chrístõ… the one you’re with… he’s pretending to be Anderson, but he’s not a Cerrelan. He’s Mazzina - the Bezzanite. They’re shape-shifters. We both forgot that.”

Cal also forgot that Bezzanites, as well as the other three species who had been the Book Keepers, were telepathic. The expression on ‘Anderson’s’ face changed from one of furtive concern to anger and hate. At the same time the face split apart and the true face of a Bezzanite – leathery grey skin with a horn protruding from between the two wide set eyes – was revealed. The horn glistened with dark red and pale green, the blood of the Cerrelan, Anderson, and the Uzellian he had travelled to Paris to meet. It was, no doubt, the weapon that had killed Weans, too, concealed beneath the ‘glamour’ that allowed him to pass for Human.

“You will give ME the other Great Books,” Mazzina growled. “I shall have the Power that the Great One imbued them with.”

“The Great One?” Chrístõ responded. He knew that Cal was struggling to reach him, having done what he could for the two injured men. In a few minutes there would be two of them to confront this lone assassin. If he could distract him with words, play for time….

“Do you mean Rassilon?” he added. “He’s not GREAT. He’s the biggest joker in all Gallifrey. Those books are his greatest gag of all. He made out that there was some kind of almighty power in the books because he knew that ambitious Time Lords would chase all over the galaxy after them. He wanted to see their disappointment when they got nothing but a load of scrawl – recipes for Rassilon’s favourite soup, some lousy poetry, a few political cartoons that weren’t even funny when they were drawn….”

“You LIE!” Mazzina roared, the last vestige of his Human/Cerrelan form falling away and his leathery body growing at least another foot in height and width as it unfolded. Two more horns on the shoulders were revealed, as well as claws that could disembowel a man. Chrístõ resisted the urge to step back out of range of such savage weapons and stood his ground about the power of the Annals.

“I’m a Time Lord, we never lie,” he answered. “The Annals are a great big joke. They’re not even important. I was sent to collect them so that they could be tossed into a recycle machine. My superiors want to put an end to their nonsense.”

If the Bezzanite had been a little more intelligent, he might have spotted the paradox when Chrístõ claimed that Time Lords never lie while telling possibly the biggest lie he had ever told. Rassilon was his Creator, a man close to a god, whom he had been brought up to revere. The Annals were the most precious artefacts he had ever set eyes upon, let alone touched.

Deriding them as scrap paper was a huge falsehood and it took all of his self-control to be convincing in the telling of it.

“Chrístõ!” Again, Cal’s anxiety meant that his telepathic shout was eye-wateringly painful. Chrístõ managed to block some of the intensity of it this time, but the Bezzanite didn’t. He saw the towering monster cringe back as Cal ran towards them. He seized the momentary advantage and kicked at the vulnerable stomach parts with a flying leap learnt from the peaceful monks who devised the lethal martial art known as Sun Ko Du. Mazzina kept to his feet, but he dropped the satchel. It flew open and the two great books fell out. Chrístõ reached for one of them. Mazzina grasped the other in his huge, clawed hands and flung it open, determined to see at least SOME of the powerful magic it contained.

Chrístõ drew back from him as a different kind of power came from within the parchment pages. He recognised Huon particles even though he had never seen it in his life. They were abandoned millennia ago in favour of the much more predictable Artron energy.

The silvery particles enveloped Mazzina. He roared in agony as his DNA was attacked by the unstable isotopes. His great body changed colour and shrank before the eyes of the two Gallifreyan witnesses. By the time a couple of secretaries and an office manager came to see what the strange noises were there was nothing to be seen of the Bezzanite except a rather ugly stone statue a little over a foot high. Cal picked it up while Chrístõ gathered up the two Annals of Rassilon reverently and held them close to his chest.

“It’s all right,” he assured the Humans. “Somebody let a dog into the centre, but it’s been taken outside for a walk. Sorry to disturb you in your work, do carry on.”

It took a bit of Power of Suggestion, but the office staff went back to their jobs. He turned to Cal who had put the statue back down again beside a water dispenser.

“Yes, it will be as heavy as Mazzina was. His molecular structure was altered but not his mass. It was simply squeezed into a denser and therefore smaller space.”

“Nasty,” Cal responded.

“We’ll leave him here. There’s a sculpture exhibition in a few weeks, time. Perhaps somebody will buy him as a bird-scarer in their garden.”

“The other two....” Cal returned to the more serious matter. “The Uzellian – with the green blood – he’s ok. They can self-repair their bodies. Anderson is receiving first aid and they’re probably going to take him to hospital. His blood is red, but he does have the heart on the wrong side and a few other peculiarities. We should go to the hospital and do the Power of Suggestion thing on the medical staff.”

“Yes, we should,” Chrístõ answered. “We ought to say thank you to him and the other Book Keeper, anyway. They did a great service to Rassilon and to Gallifrey.”

That much was easily accomplished, and having formally released the Book Keepers from their duty to Rassilon Chrístõ set a course back to Victorian London.

They were mid-flight through the Vortex when Cal looked at his friend and noticed that he was far too still. He moved closer and saw that he was in a deep trance, standing as he was by the console.

“Chrístõ?” he queried, touching him on the shoulder. He drew back as he felt a tingle of Artron energy. He was not meant to be near him at this moment. He watched anxiously until at last Chrístõ gave a deep breath out and then filled his lungs again and looked around in astonishment.

“Rassilon,” he gasped. “He made contact with me.”

“What did he say?” Cal’s devotion to the Time Lord Creator was less absolute. He had lived too long as a Human to be in awe of him, but he was impressed, all the same.

“He said I had done well, and that I would not be harmed if I opened any of the Annals. What happened to Mazzina was a trap for the unworthy. But he told me I would not be able to retain any of the wisdom within the pages. I’m not old enough or experienced enough to be able to keep it in my head. I will, one day, when I am ready.”

“That’s quite a promise,” Cal agreed.

“He also sent THAT.” Chrístõ pointed to a seventh book that had materialised on the console. “He said I COULD read that one. It is his gift to me.”

“What is it?”

Chrístõ opened the book and read some of the pages. He closed it again and smiled brightly.

“It’s Rassilon’s equivalent of Aristotle’s Second Poetics, his joke book.”

“Rassilon wrote a book of jokes?”

“Well, the humour is an acquired taste. There are two huge pages there devoted to one punch-line about a senator who was late arriving at the forum – Rassilon’s equivalent to the Panopticon. I wouldn’t try an open mike session at the Comedy Club with material like that. But it might be an interesting read some Sunday evening when I’ve had enough of 3c murdering the language of Milton and Shakespeare.”

“So that’s YOUR prize for finding the other six Annals, then?”


“Ok, let’s go and get the girls and we can head home to Gallifrey and receive the glory of finding the lost treasures, then?”

“I suppose so.”

Funnily enough, Chrístõ didn’t really feel as if ‘receiving the glory’ was the proper conclusion of this adventure. But that was what he was meant to do.

“That woman who brought us to her house,” Julia said as the two girls rejoined their men aboard the TARDIS. “She’s… well, not a woman in the usual sense of the word. She’s….”

“Yes, I know,” Chrístõ answered her. “There’s a long story about her and why she lives in Paternoster Row. I’ll tell you another time. We might even all go to tea with her again another day.”

“Fair enough,” Julia conceded.

Chrístõ turned back to the console and began to programme his return to Gallifrey. He was more than a little surprised when he received a video call from the office of the Lord High President. Paracell Hext was there standing behind his father.

“Chrístõ, my son,” Hext senior said. “I understand that you have succeeded in finding the six Annals of Rassilon.”

“I have, sir,” he replied. “I am on my way back to Gallifrey, now.”

“That would prove a little awkward,” the Lord High President said to him. “The rumours have spread far and wide and there is a major argument now about the ownership of the Annals. All of the Chapters are claiming that they should have the honour of taking them off your hands. The Prydonians have a strong claim, of course, since you ARE of that Colour, but the others are putting up strong opposition. It could spill out from the debating chambers into blood feud between Arcalian and Cerulian on one side and Prydonian and Patrexean on the other.”

“It’s as bad as that, sir?” Chrístõ was surprised. “Over a set of books?”

“Everyone believes that these books contain a source of great power,” Paracell explained.

“They do,” Chrístõ answered. “But not one that would do any good to anyone.”

“Nevertheless, if you can bear the taunts of your enemies over a ‘failure’ it might be better if you DON’T come home with the Annals,” the Lord High President said. “Chrístõ, can you find a safe place to hide the Annals once more?”

“You want them to be ‘lost’ again?”


“Then… yes, I can do that. I don’t care if people think I’ve failed. It’s better than imagining me as some kind of invincible figure who can do anything. My friends as well as my enemies should know I am no such thing. As for a place… well, PLACES would be better, and I think I can handle it. Leave it with me.”

“My thanks,” the Lord High President said, bowing formally to him. Chrístõ responded the same way. Paracell winked mischievously and invited him to dinner at the Tower next time he was home. Chrístõ was unconsciously reminded of the first time he had taken dinner with Paracell at the Tower, possibly the most emotionally confusing night of his life, and he blushed deeply. Paracell laughed openly before the video link was broken.

“Are you disappointed?” Julia asked him.

“No,” he answered. “A little relieved, actually. I’ve come to realise just how powerful the Annals really are. They SHOULDN’T be in the hands of ambitious men like the High Council. One of them will be tempted sooner or later. We DO need to hide them again. Or, at least, I do. It’s my responsibility. I think the National Library of Ireland could be a place to leave one of them. All that security next door at Leinster House should keep it safe, and besides, alien forces never really notice Ireland. It’s usually the USA or Britain that get their attention. I’m SLIGHTLY tempted to leave one of them in New Canberra High School’s library. NOBODY would look for it there. And then….”

He smiled. He would think of more places to hide the Annals later. They would be his secret. If necessary he could even hide the knowledge deep in his mind so even he didn’t know where they were. But he would be sure they were safe.

And the Seventh Annal, Rassilon’s Book of Humour, was his, without any doubt, on the highest authority of all.