“We’re not where we should be,” Chrístõ admitted as he examined the environmental console. “Or if we are, we’re considerably early. This appears to be ninth century England, rather too soon for the Empire Expedition. Strange, though. The co-ordinate was correct. It seems as if something drew us off course. But what could possibly do that in an era when technology wasn’t even a word, let alone a concept.”

Riley Davenport looked up at the viewscreen and saw a rough made road with trees growing either side. It could have been a country backroad at any time in the entire history of England.

As he listened to Chrístõ confirming that it was, indeed, the reign of Alfred the Great in one of the quieter times when he had quelled the ambitions of his Viking neighbours and was able to get on with the smaller mater of ruling the Anglo-Saxons Riley watched a small cart pass by pulled by a pair of very patient horses. The traveller wore a grey, nondescript hooded cloak and didn’t seem to be carrying anything of consequence.

Even so, Riley watched as two men leapt from behind the trees onto the cart and fought with the driver.

“They’re going to kill him!”

Chrístõ looked up from his calculations just in time to see Riley rushing out of the TARDIS. He had thrust himself bodily onto the nearest of the two assailants already.

“Oh hell!” he cried and ran after him, regretting the fact that he never kept weapons in the console room before remembering that he was a pacifist and apart from some fencing foils and a couple of nunchakus he didn’t keep weapons in his TARDIS at all.

Riley was fighting a man armed with a sword with only his bare fists. Even so, the element of surprise was with him. He managed to disarm his opponent and grasped the sword inexpertly but with a rush of adrenaline spurring him on.

Chrístõ attacked the other man with a choice mixture of martial arts moves, some of them not even developed in the Far East where they originated and certainly not seen in Anglo-Saxon lands. He rendered his target unconscious very quickly and turned to see the cart driver looking pale and breathless and Riley looking horrified.

“I think I killed him,” he said. The sword he still held was streaked with blood. The rough clothing on the body at his feet was turning red with the bloom pouring from the wound across the neck deep enough to sever the windpipe and jugular if not actually to decapitate.

“Yes, you did,” Chrístõ confirmed. “Don’t worry. It was him or you, and I for one prefer it was him.” He watched as the hooded cart driver bent over the body and whispered a prayer in Latin. He noticed the silver crucifix wound about slender fingers unused to manual labour and the Sigel with which he finished his prayer. “You’re a man of God?”

The cart driver stood upright and nodded.

“I am Father Alberto De Lorenzo, envoy of Pope Marinus,” he answered. “And I thank you for your assistance against these rogues. A life lost is regrettable, but he chose the path of wickedness and died thus. Your friend has qualms. The Sixth Commandment weighs upon him, I doubt not.”

“He has never needed to fight to the death before. He feels it keenly. But he will….”

Chrístõ’s words went unsaid. Riley gave an anguished cry that had nothing to do with breaking any of the Commandments given to Moses. He stammered incoherently and pointed at the body. The fatal wound was disappearing. The dead man gave a ragged exhalation and tried to sit up.

“Stay where you are,” Chrístõ told him in a commanding tone that brooked no refusal. He put his hand on the formerly dead man’s forehead and reached into his mind. Before the strange fracture of consciousness that was his brief death there was a life that involved wayside robbery, violence and murder.

But it was a human life. This was no shape shifter with powers of regeneration. Chrístõ was certain of that. He told Riley to keep his sword on the latter-day Lazarus while he examined his unconscious fellow criminal. He, too, was human. He was jolted awake with a psychic equivalent of a kick in the ribs.

“Both of you run, and keep running until you are in a place many miles from where you have ever set foot before. Think yourself fortunate to be alive to do so.”

The two men ran. He was certain they would do as he told them. He turned again to the holy man from Rome.

“Father Lorenzo, what is your mission here in the land of the Angles?”

Father Lorenzo was wary about his answer. Chrístõ and Riley, after all, were strangers as much as his two would-be robbers. Formal introductions were needed, at the least.

“I am Chrístõ de Lœngb?rrow, this is my brother-in-arms Riley of Bergestede. We are officers of the Burh of Canterbury on our way to London to pay tribute to the King.”

Riley said nothing that contradicted that cover story. He just watched as his friend made eye contact with the Vatican envoy and persuaded him by no more than the sound of his words that he was trustworthy.

“I am charged by his Holiness to bring a gift to the Godly King Alfred of the Angles who has fought the pagan Norsemen valiantly,” Lorenzo answered him. “In that humble box is a treasure of gold and stones that ruffians such as we encountered would wish to steal, not knowing that the outer riches enfold something far more valuable – a relic of the True Cross.”

“Oh!” Riley Davenport was a Protestant. Five hundred years ago, his forebears had eschewed the trappings of Popery such as the trafficking of and adulation of relics. Even so, that was impressive. He bowed his head in the direction of the humble wooden box hiding something so important.

Chrístõ bowed his head, too. He had been taught to respect the religious beliefs of other races.

“I think we ought to accompany you on your journey in case of further interference,” Chrístõ suggested. He turned to look at his TARDIS. It had disguised itself as a rough wooden box like the one on the cart already but the size of a small wardrobe. He went around the back of it, disappearing from the Father’s view momentarily. Inside the TARDIS he found two dark cloaks that would make himself and Riley appear more suitably clothed for the time and adjusted the exterior weight of the TARDIS so that it would not tax the horses. He brought the cloaks and had Riley help him carry the TARDIS, placing it on the cart before the two of them climbed up and settled themselves for the journey.

They were only a little way inland from the coast of Kent by Chrístõ’s reckoning and a cart journey to London was several days with precarious lodgings along the way. It was time enough to find out more about the curious thing that had just happened.

“You’ve been travelling for a long time?” he asked Father Lorenzo. “From Rome to this northern Isle?”

“Many weeks,” Lorenzo answered. “I travelled the roads of Europe each day, my precious cargo hidden in plain sight as you witnessed. At night there were monasteries and priories and the homes of goodly men, all with stout walls and strong roofs to protect me and the Gift. Many Masses were said in honour of my journey. I felt certain that I was watched over by the Saints as I travelled.”

“And nothing unusual occurred before now?”

Father Lorenzo didn’t say anything at first. He was a priest, after all. Falsehoods did not come easy to him but the truth was just as difficult.

“Many things have happened since I left Rome,” he admitted at last. “I stayed one night in Piedmont, at the home of a goodly merchant. His child was sick. I prayed with the family, expecting to have to say the Last Rites over the fragile body before dawn, but when I woke to make my first prayers of the new day there was rejoicing because the child had rallied in the night. She was well enough to ask her favourite food for breakfast. I led the mother and father and all of the household in prayers of thanksgiving for God’s favour upon them.”

“A child’s life is a thing to be thankful over,” Chrístõ admitted. “Of course, it is possible that she simply had an unseen inner strength to fight the illness. But….”

“But it could have been a Miracle,” Riley whispered in awe.

“If I did not believe in the power of prayer I would not be a priest,” Lorenzo said. “But I have seen villages decimated by plague despite the most agonised pleas for God’s mercy. I have seen mothers offer their own lives in exchange as a weakling infant breathed its last. For the most part these prayers go unanswered – or the answer is that God’s Plan does not include these innocent lives. Yet this time the prayer was granted. The child is well.”

“Perhaps….” Riley began, but he was at a loss to explain such a thing except as a miracle.

“There were others… in the monasteries where I stayed the infirmaries were almost empty. Sick men recovered while the Relic was present. At Avignon where I rested for several days before travelling on through the Goulash provinces… when I arrived I found that the good Abbot was bedridden and paralysed from a seizure that had taken him suddenly. The Brothers expected him to die within a few days. They had even gone so far as to dig a grave and begin carving a stone to go over it. Yet the man walked with me to Matins on my last morning there and waved me off with his blessings upon my mission.”

Lorenzo continued to outline three other occasions when his visit to a private home or a religious community had coincided with the unexpected recovery of somebody near death.

“What are your thoughts about this?” Chrístõ asked, not wanting to make any judgements himself.

“My thought has been… though I hardly dare say it… that the relic of the True Cross has healing powers. The prayers said in its presence have conferred these Miracles.”

“Yes,” Riley said enthusiastically. “Yes, that was what I thought, too. Father Lorenzo, you are carrying with you a Miracle… a Miracle in a Box.”

He glanced at Chrístõ and then at the disguised TARDIS. A miracle in a box was something he was quite accustomed to, but this was a new and startling way of thinking about such things.

“It… may be,” Chrístõ said cautiously. “Father Lorenzo… if I seem sceptical, do not hold it as an offence to you. Let me be, as it were, Devil’s Advocate, testing the in potentia Miracle by smashing it against the rocks of doubt, of coincidence, of simple, plausible explanation… even… though I do not think it in this case… fraud. It is what your superiors in the Vatican would do if they were told of a Healing Well or some such thing to which miracles were being ascribed.”

“Indeed, they would,” Lorenzo said. “Which is one of several reasons why I have not spoken of this before today. I would not have shared the burden with you, but… my friends… we have all three of us seen the greatest of the miracles, yet. The man who rose from the dead before our eyes.”

Riley shuddered as he remembered the horror that went through him when he realised he had killed the would-be robber. The ‘miracle’ took that weight from his soul. The man he killed ran away from the scene.

“And yet…” Lorenzo went on. “If this is God’s work, then I confess myself confused. That man was a common ruffian who would doubtless have murdered me for my valuables if you had not been near at hand. Does He offer the gift of life to such an unworthy soul?”

It was a fair question. Chrístõ had no answer to it.

Riley did.

“Perhaps the ruffian given such a second chance of life will repent his wickedness and become a better man,” he suggested. “I have had reason to take stock of my own life when it might have come to disaster. Even though he was a rogue, I fervently hope that man grasps the opportunity to do the same.”

“A good, Christian answer,” Lorenzo answered him. “One I am ashamed I did not see myself. Our Lord judges all mankind equally. I was wrong to think that any soul weighed less than another in His eyes. Thank you for showing me my fault, Brother Riley.”

Riley was alarmed at that response. Father Lorenzo was a learned and devout man in an age when that was rare enough. He had no intention of making him doubt his mind.

“One more question from the Devil’s Advocate,” Chrístõ said before either man had time to dwell on their misgivings. “For the time being, anyway. At the places where you rested overnight, especially where these miracles occurred, did anyone know the full nature of your cargo?”

“No,” Lorenzo answered. “I was advised not to let it be known. A relic of the True Cross is a valuable thing. It would attract attention. I would not have had so peaceful a journey thus far if it had been known. As it was, the men who attacked me when you were so fortuitously near at hand could have seen nothing more than an opportunity to steal horses and perhaps any coins on my person.”

“Let’s try to keep it that way,” Chrístõ advised. “You know what would happen if people should talk.”

Lorenzo knew. Though his mind was buzzing with the possibilities, he calmed his outward appearance at least. For the rest of the afternoon as they travelled rutted, narrow roads on the jolting cart, sometimes in the full, harsh glare of sunshine that blinded their eyes, sometimes under trees with low branches that slapped at their heads, the priest talked of his early life in the Lombardy region of that peninsula that would come to be called Italy in many hundreds of years. He spoke of his calling and training as a priest, and going to work at the Vatican itself, where his humility and lack of personal ambition earned him the respect of his elders and their trust on this mission to the remote land of the Anglo-Saxons. Chrístõ found himself drawing parallels with his own life. The plains of the southern continent of Gallifrey had been where he grew from childhood before embarking on his own adventures in far off places. He had not the firm Vocation of Father Lorenzo, but he felt he had trodden a similar path all the same.

They reached a monastery just outside Faversham as the sun was setting. They were welcomed by the monks and given food and drink and a place to rest.

It was a place where Chrístõ was able to speak freely with Riley about what they had witnessed. The opportunity came when the two of them were settling to sleep in two narrow, hard, but sufficient beds in a stone walled monk’s cell.

“Are you still worried about having killed that man?” he asked him directly, knowing there was no point in beating around the bush.

“Yes,” Riley admitted. “Yes, because I DID kill him. The fact that he came back to life doesn’t change that.”

“I know. But you did it to save Father Lorenzo. It was a brave, selfless, heroic thing.”

“It didn’t feel heroic.”

“That’s how you know it is. Being heroic very often DOES feel sickening. The fact that you DO feel bad proves that you’re a good soul who doesn’t glorify killing. Don’t let that part of what happened prey on your mind. Don’t let it change who you are. Don’t let it stop you being a man who runs out without any weapon of your own to save an innocent victim from being robbed and murdered. That’s the kind of man I want by my side in the TARDIS.”

Riley gasped in air as if he had been holding it for hours.

“You don’t think I’m a dangerous, impulsive idiot….”

“Maybe a bit, but I’ve been called that myself. We’ll say no more about that. Now… what are your thoughts about the healing power of the Relic?”

“I’m not supposed to believe in such things,” Riley answered. “I’m Protestant. We don’t believe in relics and places of pilgrimage, saints and all that. We say our prayers directly to God. But… all the things Lorenzo told us… and what we saw happen before our eyes. What else can it be?”

“It could be a lot of things, but they are rarely found on Earth,” Chrístõ said. “Machines that can cure illness and injury ARE known to my people. Not that we need them since we are genetically capable of mending ourselves, but we are aware of other races that use them….”

Riley looked almost physically hurt as he listened.

“I think I’d rather it was a miracle, the Relic working God’s will on Earth.”

“But the chances of that really being the explanation are….”

“I’ve never asked…. I thought it was your business… but Chrístõ… don’t you believe in anything? Who is the God of Time Lords?”

“We don’t,” Chrístõ answered. “We acknowledge Rassilon as the Creator of our race in that he gave us our power of Regeneration, but we don’t worship him as a deity. We....”

“What do you think Father Lorenzo would think of that?” Riley asked. “If he knew you were a godless, faithless heathen.”

“I don’t know,” Chrístõ answered, slightly surprised by Riley’s harsh choice of words. “I suppose….”

“I do,” Riley told him. “I tried to tell the vicar about my ‘different’ feelings. He baptised me. He had been a family friend for decades. He always seemed kind, understanding. But he didn’t understand that. You probably don’t have a word in your language for what he called me when he threw me out of the presbytery.”

“That’s very likely.”

“We’re neither of us acceptable to Lorenzo or any of the other religious men under this roof. We’re putting on a façade. But… despite being cast out from the church I still believe. Even after seeing terrible things in the desert and unbelievable things on other worlds, I believe in the goodness of God. His forgiveness, even of a sinner like me, carries me through the dangers we’ve encountered.”

“I’m glad for you,” Chrístõ told him. “And I would never say a word against your faith. You hold onto it with both hands. As for me…. We never needed religion on Gallifrey. Mostly we put our faith in science and reason.”

“They don’t sound like much comfort in the dark and cold,” Riley told him.

“No… we have phenomenal eyesight and the ability to regulate our own body temperature.” Riley gave him a quizzical look. “No, you’re right. Sometimes it does seem a barren kind of life. I envy the Faith of good men like Lorenzo. Apart from anything else, my science and reason make it hard to accept miracles at face value. I have to find another explanation other than a sliver of nine-hundred year old wood exerting a healing force capable of raising the dead.”

“If you couldn’t find another explanation would you accept the Miracle?”

“Yes. If I smashed the miracle against the rocks of my disbelief long enough and it stood unscathed, I would have to admit that the Science and Reason were wrong, the very core of my people’s existence flawed.”

“That would be as bad for you as if you proved to me and Lorenzo and everyone else here under this roof that there is no God.”

“I don’t mean to do that. I would never take away any man’s faith. Even if there is a scientific explanation for the Miracles, I won’t hurt anybody with the knowledge. I promise you that much, Riley.”

Riley accepted that promise before he turned his face to the wall and tried to sleep soundly on his pallette. Chrístõ repeated the promise to himself and thought a little more about the possible explanations science and reason offered for the Miracle.

Early the next morning they breakfasted and attended prayers before setting off again on their journey towards London. The precious gift for the King was placed in the cart with the TARDIS in its humble disguise next to it. They left the safe confines of the monastery and jolted along the narrow, rutted roads where robbers might lie in wait at every moment.

They were unmolested in that way, but near nightfall as they started to think longingly of plain food and even plainer sleeping chambers, they came across something that tested the power of the Miracle as well as the faith any of them had in their hearts. They were alerted by distressing sounds from the woods beside the road and leaving Riley to guard the cargo upon the cart Chrístõ and Lorenzo investigated.

“Dear Lord!” Lorenzo cried as they witnessed a young woman hanging from a tree by a roughly fashioned noose. She was not dead. The rope had not broken her neck. Instead she was slowly strangling.

Chrístõ didn’t hesitate. He launched himself nimbly onto a lower tree branch and took the woman’s weight against his shoulder while he reached to cut the rope. As a result of their combined weight the branch snapped and they fell in an ungainly heap. Chrístõ felt his leg break and the woman groaned in agony.

But Lorenzo reached out to lift first one, then the other. Chrístõ stood on a leg that was fully repaired even more quickly than his own regenerative powers could have managed it.

The woman was breathing raggedly, but the marks of the rope on her neck were disappearing rapidly.

The fact that she was alive distressed the woman more than her impending death. She cried piteously and spoke of her fiancé who had broken his promise and left the county with another woman riding his horse with him.

“That’s his loss, not yours,” Chrístõ told her. “What is your name? Where do you live? We’ll take you home.”

She identified herself as Anna, but the prospect of returning home brought on fresh tears.

“I cannot go home,” she cried. “I have shamed everyone.”

“Nonsense.” Chrístõ touched her forehead gently. He reached into her mind and saw the deep grief she had been under since being jilted. She had been so distraught she hadn’t even realised that her family had been trying to console her and that nobody was ashamed but her.

“That won’t do,” he said and touched her memories gently, taking nothing away, but blurring the grief, making the pain less acute, giving her the strength to rise above the hurt and the desperate desire to end her life.

“You are a beautiful woman, Anna,” he assured her. “And there will be a better man in your future. You will be happy.”

He glimpsed that much in her timeline, though he could not be too specific. Lorenzo was within earshot and men of God were naturally suspicious of clairvoyance and such practices.

Anna was reassured, partly by his words and partly by the Power of Suggestion he employed with them.

“We’ll take her home,” Chrístõ said again and this time she didn’t object. He brought the young woman to the cart. She directed them to the farmhouse where her parents were too glad to have her home safe and sound to question too much what when had been doing alone in the woods. Chrístõ kept the full story from them. It would only distress them.

But when they were on their way again, leaving Anna with her family, Riley was the one who put into words what they were all thinking.

“She was hanging, strangling herself with a rope. People don’t recover from that. She should have been dead. It’s another miracle that happened because we were there at the crucial moment with the Relic. It saved her.”

“No, it didn’t,” Chrístõ responded. “I wasn’t sure until now, but I tried something… something that would prove without any doubt that it wasn’t the Relic.”

Father Lorenzo was surprised by the certainty in Chrístõ’s words. Even as ‘Devil’s Advocate’ it seemed odd that he should deny the power of God so completely.

Riley was aghast.

“Chrístõ, you can’t say that. You have seen it twice, now. You have Lorenzo’s testimony of countless other times. How can you… even you… deny it?”

“Because I know,” Chrístõ insisted. “Listen… both of you. I can explain it all if you give me chance.”

“No!” Riley was almost in tears as he stood up in the cart and did something neither of his companions predicted. He leapt forward between the two horses, sustaining painful kicks in the head and abdomen before his body was caught by the heavy, iron rimmed cartwheels.

Lorenzo reined in the horses and the cart stopped. Chrístõ had already leapt down and was running back to where Riley’s body lay awkwardly across the rutted path. He could see that his injuries were fatal. His arms and legs were smashed. The wheels had crushed his ribcage. His skull was broken open by the horse’s hooves. He gathered the broken body in his arms and held him, feeling the stillness of his heart keenly.

Lorenzo approached cautiously, murmuring his prayers for the dead, but his eyes fixed upon Riley in hope.

Surely one more miracle….

Chrístõ felt the jolt of his heartbeat beneath his hand. He saw the terrible wounds start to heal and heard Riley’s next ragged breath.

“I was dead,” he whispered hoarsely. “I was dead. I saw heaven…. I saw it. I was there.”

“I believe you, Riley.” Chrístõ told him. “I really do. But it’s still not what you think. It’s not what either of you think.”

“But it is.” Riley insisted. “It’s a miracle. Please believe it, Chrístõ. We all have to believe in something. I wish you could believe in this.”

“I believe in many things,” he assured him. “Mostly I believe in the good hearts of my chosen friends, which is why I am so glad there is SOMETHING happening here, even if I call it by a different name. Riley, come on back to the cart. Let’s get to our night’s destination, and when we’re calm and quiet and somewhere we can talk, I’ll explain everything that I understand, now, I promise.”

They were only a few miles away from the settlement of Ceteham which would one day be the strategically important port town of Chatham but in this time was a small fishing village with a very unimportant community of Friars nearby. Under their roof, the travellers sought and were given shelter and food.

After the last prayers of the night were said and most of the community were in their beds, Chrístõ brought Riley and Father Lorenzo to the chapel where candles were still lit around the altar. He brought the wooden box with the precious gift for King Alfred hidden within it.

“Open the box, Father Lorenzo,” Chrístõ said. “Show us the treasure.”

Lorenzo opened the box. He lifted from among a bed of straw a circular casket of gold covered with precious gems. Riley looked at it reverently. Lorenzo looked at it with puzzlement.

“But this is not the casket containing the True Cross!” he exclaimed.

“No, it isn’t,” Chrístõ told him calmly. “Please forgive me a small deception. This casket is mine. It is a gift from a friend who owns more precious stones and gold than he knows what to do with. It contains a sliver of wood that had been cut for fireplaces in the monastery at Faversham. The casket with the Relic of the True Cross within it is on the altar at the same Faversham monastery. I left it there with a note for the Abbot asking him to guard it until I return for it, which I promise I shall do in a little while. But I had to leave it in order to prove to you both that the presence of the Relic is not the cause of the miracles we have seen.”

“It….” Riley stared at Chrístõ, then the casket, then Father Lorenzo, who was even more astonished by the revelation. “But I WAS dead. I felt all the pain of falling beneath the cart. I felt my heart stop. I… I saw Heaven. I would have stayed there if… if something hadn’t called me back to life.”

“Yes, I know. I’m not denying that a powerful presence was at work. It saved young Anna from a terrible fate. It saved you from the most insane thing you have ever done and, I hope, will never do again. But it wasn’t the Relic that saved either of you.”

“Then….” The question was on Father Lorenzo’s lips as Chrístõ turned to him.

“It was you, Lorenzo,” he said.

“Me?” The young priest was astonished. “How can it be me? I’m just a man. I cannot do the deeds of Christ – only spread the Word.”

“You’re not JUST a man, Lorenzo,” Chrístõ told him. He gently pressed the puzzled priest down onto a wooden bench before the altar. “You’re not a HUMAN, anyway. I didn’t see it at first… because I didn’t look. I didn’t want to impose myself in that way. But I started to realise it after spending this time travelling with you. Your difference stood out to me like a thread of a contrast colour in a woven cloth. Lorenzo, you are not from this world. At least… perhaps you were born in Lombardy, but I think both of your parents are Lazarens.”

Lorenzo’s eyes narrowed in bewilderment.

“What do you mean… what is a… a….”

“Lorenzo, this world is not the only one in Creation. Mankind is not the only sentient species. Despite everything you have been taught to believe, that much you must now understand. Lazarens come from a world called Zaren. Their name means people of Zaren. Some of them – one in a hundred, hundred thousand of the Lazaren children – have a gift many would consider miraculous. They can heal other beings with illness or injury. They can even bring the newly dead back to life.”

Lorenzo gasped. So did Riley. Both looked as if they were struggling to believe what was being told to him.

“You would think, of course, that it is a wonderful gift – to be able to heal the sick. For the most part, it is. But Lazarens with the power have suffered for it. They have been kidnapped and forced to artificially extend the lives of tyrants, made to resurrect armies on the field of battle, all kinds of terrible things.”

Again, his audience of two looked at Chrístõ in wonder. He paused before continuing.

“Lorenzo, I think your parents came to Earth and settled in Lombardy because they knew their child would have the gift and they wanted to protect you. They raised you as Human. They probably hoped the ability would remain latent in you. It obviously did until recently. How old are you, my friend?”

“I am thirty-two,” Lorenzo answered. “It was my birthday just before I set off from Rome on my journey.”

“Yes,” Christo nodded. “Yes, that, strangely enough, is puberty for Lazarens. It is the time when the gift would assert itself if it is present in an individual. This is the time your parents both feared and longed for.”

“But it cannot be,” Lorenzo protested. “I am not… I am a man… I am Human. I am of this world. I cannot….”

He stopped speaking. He looked at Chrístõ in widening astonishment.

“It is true. There are worlds beyond this world. The knowledge was buried beneath all the Human knowledge and learning. How did it suddenly come to me?”

“It was probably meant to come along with the Gift. I think your priestly studies were so long and so intense – you were so devout and anxious to learn all you could – that it suppressed what should have been opened up to you at the proper time. But it is there now. You understand it, now?”

“Yes, I do,” he said with the awe of one who had received an epiphany that enveloped not only his mind, but his very soul. “I think… I think I understand that I can control the Gift. It need not be so arbitrary, nor so absolute.”

“That may take a while. Until it does, you should probably avoid conducting funeral services. I’m glad we saved Anna, and even more so I am glad for Riley’s life. But for the most part, the dead really should stay dead. Even some of the sick and dying… no matter how much their loved ones pray… probably should take their chances. But your Gift, used sparingly, could do a lot of good.”

“How do I know who deserves the Gift?” Lorenzo asked. “If it was my choice… I would not have resurrected that ruffian who attacked me. I would have considered him unworthy. But what if Riley was right – what if that was his chance to be a better man? How do I know who deserves that second chance?”

“Trust to your heart,” Chrístõ told him. “Trust your faith in your God. That hasn’t changed. You just know that Creation is bigger than Human thought has yet managed to encompass. It doesn’t change the Architect of that Creation or His plan for it. Trust in what you always trusted, Lorenzo, and do what you know is right.”

Lorenzo looked at Chrístõ again then he turned from him and knelt before the altar. He prayed in a low murmur. It was a prayer of thanks, for the angel who brought to him this revelation of his true vocation.

“He thinks you’re an angel?” Riley whispered as he and Chrístõ quietly slipped out of the chapel, leaving Lorenzo to his prayers.

“I’ve been called stranger things. Of course, it isn’t completely a coincidence that we came to be with him. The TARDIS must have focussed on all that Lazaren healing energy that he didn’t know how to control – because he didn’t know it was his to control.”

“Coincidence?” Riley queried. “Or maybe something other than the TARDIS brought you there when he needed you? Maybe you shouldn’t dismiss the idea of a Miracle – or of Angels – too easily. Maybe there is more in the universe than science, still, Chrístõ.”

“Maybe there is,” Chrístõ conceded. “I’m going to take the TARDIS back to Faversham and recover the real gift for King Alfred. I’ve got a couple more jewel-encrusted presents from the King-Emperor of Adano-Ambrado I can leave there in its place.”

“I think I’ll stay here with Lorenzo while you do that,” Riley told him. “I AM a Protestant, though that means nothing five hundred years before the Reformation. And I AM an abomination according to the Book of Leviticus and Paul’s Letter to the Romans, but this is the second time I’ve had a chance to live when I should have died, and I think I’ll go back there and kneel alongside Lorenzo and say a couple of prayers of thanks to God for the TWO aliens who have given me those chances.”

“You do that,” Chrístõ told him. “I really AM glad Lorenzo was there to give you a second-second chance. So include my thanks with yours, if you like. Don’t let my lack of faith stop you.”