‘The Austen Code’, Part Three, Chapter 11

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11. Discovering the Volturnans

SCENE #94 – EXT – STALL STREET – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD
It’s now the afternoon. With the Doctor, Nyssa, Billy and Jane Austen are walking in Stall Street.

NYSSA
“Well, Doctor? We’re nearly close to Roman Baths now.”

BILLY
“Perhaps the Doctor has formulated a plan about what to do when we get there, Nyssa.”

DOCTOR
“No. I’m afraid I haven’t.”

BILLY
“What? You’ve no plan at all, Doctor?!”

DOCTOR
“No.”

NYSSA
(impatiently) “Then what did we come all the way for if we had no idea what to do.”

DOCTOR
(irritably) “You told me you saw someone familiar, Nyssa. You tell me.”

NYSSA
“I was relying on your better judgement, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
(irritably) “Well you should have told me, shouldn’t you?!”

BILLY
“Hey hang on. Hang on. Let’s not fight over this. I’m sure we’ll think of something to do.”

NYSSA
“We’re not fighting, Billy.”

JANE
“Doctor? Did you say we’re close to the Roman Baths?”

DOCTOR
“Yes. What about it, Miss Austen?”

JANE
“Then…where is the Pump Room? I do not see the entrance. In fact I hardly see any sign upon a door that says ‘Pump Room’.”

DOCTOR
“Like I said, Miss Austen. Time is different in Aquae Sulis. And the Pump Room hasn’t been invented yet.” (realises) “Ah! Now there’s somebody I can ask.”

JANE
“Not invented yet?”

The Doctor goes off in another direction, whilst Nyssa, Billy and Jane follow. They come across someone who hammers into the stonework. This is Sulinus the stone mason. He still works whilst the Doctor interrupts.

DOCTOR
“Excuse me? Excuse me?” (clears his throat, loudly) “Excuse me?!”

Sulinus stops working.

SULINUS
“Yeah? What do you want?”

DOCTOR
“Pardon me? But are you the stone mason that works around the Baths at this time?”

SULINUS
“I am. I am Sulinus. Stone mason…of all of Aquae Sulis!”

DOCTOR
“Yes, yes. I’m sure you are. But tell me, you didn’t happen to notice an earthquake or tremor occurring here at all, did you?.”

SULINUS
“Oh yes. I did.”

DOCTOR
“You did?”

SULINUS
“Yes.”

Moment of silence.

NYSSA
“Well…didn’t that strike you as odd, Mr. Sulinus?”

SULINUS
“Not really, mam.”

NYSSA
“Why do you say that?”

SULINUS
“Well I happen to believe that was Sulis Minerva waking up. That tremor was to make us all remember that she is among us. Don’t you think that’s what it was all about?”

BILLY
“Is something happening in the Baths today then?”

SULINUS
“Oh yes. I believe that’s why the tremor occurred. Somebody is conducting a ceremony.”

DOCTOR
“A ceremony to do what?”

SULINUS
“Oh I don’t know. Something about calling up Sulis Minerva to come and appear before everyone else. If you ask my opinion, they must be lunatics.”

DOCTOR
“Thank you very much, Mr…”

SULINUS
“Sulinus! Sulinus! Stone Mason of all Aquae Sulis!”

DOCTOR
“Yes, yes, so you said! Thank you!”

The Doctor, Nyssa, Billy and Jane walk away from Sulinus who continues his work.

BILLY
“Doctor, there didn’t seem to be much point in asking that person about what’s going on with that tremor we experienced.”

DOCTOR
“On the contrary, Billy. He gave us the information we needed. A ceremony taking place in the Roman Baths.”

NYSSA
“That man we saw going into the Baths. Mr. Vernon. He must be responsible for causing the earthquake. He is a member of a physics ministry.”

JANE
“Physics ministry?”

BILLY
“But how? Science isn’t as well sophisticated as it is now here in Roman times.”

DOCTOR
“Come on!”

NYSSA
“Where are you heading off to, Doctor?”

DOCTOR
“To the Roman Baths, of course!”

NYSSA
“You’re going the wrong way, Doctor! It’s under the archway!”

DOCTOR
“I’m taking the rear entrance for a change!”

BILLY
“Is there a rear entrance?”

DOCTOR
“Join me if you’d like to find out, Billy! You too, Nyssa! And you too Miss Austen!”

JANE
“But sir…?”

DOCTOR
“Come on, no time to lose!”

The Doctor heads off to find the rear entrance to the Roman Baths. Nyssa, Billy and Jane are bewildered.

JANE
“Your friend, Miss Nyssa. Is he quite sane?”

NYSSA
“Come on. We must catch up with him. He’ll know what’s going on and explain it all later.” (to Billy) “Come on, Billy.”

BILLY
“Right behind you, Nyssa.”

Nyssa takes Billy’s hand. Jane watches them go off, intrigued.

JANE
“She even holds his hand. They must be engaged.” (Pause) “Oh for the life of me do I have to run in these clothes?!”

Picking her skirts up, Jane follows after Nyssa and Billy as they follow the Doctor. Meanwhile, somewhere nearby, Belator, the Bath worker boy, watches from a distance, seeing Jane Austen.

BELATOR
“That’s her! The demon lady who appeared at the spring! I must tell the High Priest. I can even tell the omen-reader Luicius. I must let them know. And that they are heading for the rear of Sulis’ sanctuary.”

With eager determination and excitement, Belator runs off to find the Bath elders. Whilst he runs off, gurgling snarling growling noises echoes as the water-zombies are close by.


SCENE #95 – INT – ROMANS BATHS – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD
Back at the Sacred Spring in the Roman Baths, Salvador has become the centre of attention as everybody proceeds to ask his guidance and advice.

GAIUS
“Great Lord Salvador, tell us! What are we to do? How are we to serve the great Sulis?”

FLAVIA
“What sacrifices shall we offer to her?”

SALVADOR
“Sacrifices?!” (Pause) “Yes. You will need to sacrifice something to Sulis in order to gain your full acceptance by her. A bodily sacrifice…must be made!”

GAIUS
“Bodily? Dear lord, we have made the request. The woman who was here…”

SALVADOR
(interrupts) “I am aware of whom you speak of! Lord Alexandros told me of it! The woman who stood on the spring earlier today…and caused sacrilege to Lady Sulis!”

GAIUS
“Oh yes! She caused terrible sacrilege! We must be rid of this demon!”

CALPURNIUS
(contemptuously) “That is for Sulis to decide, Lord Gaius! Not for you, this man, nor anyone to decide!”

SALVADOR
“Sulis commands it, High Priest! I said to you myself!”

CALPURNIUS
(boldly) “I am not convinced you control her, so-called lord!”

APAULIA
“Even after that display you saw you’re still not convinced?” (laughs) “I admire your common sense, mate!”

ALEXANDROS
“Shut up, Apaulia!”

FLAVIA
“Yes do be quiet, child!”

SALVADOR
“I can summon Sulis again High Priest if you like…”

CALPURNIUS
“No! Do not do so, I beseech you! You have caused more distress than you can possibly imagine!”

SALVADOR
“Distress? I cause distress? My dear lord, it is Sulis who is distressed! She is in great need of a human sacrifice. And as Lord Gaius and Lady Flavia have requested, I shall see to it that the woman who was here earlier is the one to be sacrificed. For indeed everyone shall see the sacrifice before seeing Sulis herself.”

GAIUS
“Excellent! Splendid!”

FLAVIA
“We are most grateful to you, Lord Salvador. You have given us such reassurance!”

CALPURNIUS
“Not I obviously!”

SALVADOR
“All I desire is for everyone to see Sulis. They deserve to see the one who they’ve so religiously served…and get their reward.”

APAULIA
“That should be interesting. Remind me to book tickets for the Q-E-two for everyone.”

FLAVIA
“Silence, girl!”

APAULIA
(bitterly) “I’m done with being silent, Lady! I’ve had enough…”

ALEXANDROS
(out loud) “How shall we find the woman who was here earlier?! She was taken by some idiot of a man who sought to take her home!”

FLAVIA
“He said she was his sister.”

Just then, Belator enters with Luicius Marcius Memar. Belator pants for breath as he  and Luicius enter.

BELATOR
“My lords and officials! I have seen her!”

CALPURNIUS
“Lord Luicius? How come you to bring this boy into the spring room without prior consent?”

SALVADOR
“Let the boy speak!”

ALEXANDROS
“What have you to say, young Belator?”

BELATOR
“I have seen the woman! The one who was standing on the spring of Sulis earlier as all of you stand there now! She’s with the man who claimed she was his brother! There are two others with them! They’re heading for the rear of the Baths!”

SALVADOR
(pleased) “Excellent! We shall have our sacrifice after all!” (to Alexandros) “Lord Alexandros! Have some guards in the temple and here at the Sacred Spring.”

ALEXANDROS
“Yes, my lord!”

SALVADOR
“If the Doctor and his friends should come into those areas, see to it that the guards do not let them get out!”

GAIUS
“We shall have the sacrifice at last! Outside the temple precinct!”

ALEXANDROS
“Yes! Around the sacrificial altar!”

CALPURNIUS
“No! That altar is meant for animal sacrifices to Sulis! You cannot sacrifice a woman!”

FLAVIA
“I don’t see why not! She is an animal after all!”

APAULIA
(shocked) “No! That woman is a living being! You can’t sacrifice her like that!”

GAIUS
“We can do whatever we like, servant! That woman is a demon spirit and must be stamped out!”

APAULIA
“No!”

ALEXANDROS
“Then it shall be done!”

BELATOR
(excited) “Wonderful!”

LUICIUS
“Beware all of you! I sense great danger! The woman spirit will cause an end to Aquae Sulis. Time and flooding shall destroy this city! Do not proceed with this viciousness. This cast down prophecy! No good will come of this!”

CALPURNIUS
(satisfied) “Wise words, Lord Luicius! For once I agree with you!”

APAULIA
“You’re only saying that because you don’t wish to believe in Mr. Salvador!”

BELATOR
“I do not understand you, Lord Luicius. Do you not want this woman to be got rid of rather than to have her cause us pain and suffering?!”

LUICIUS
“Nothing can change the order of things! The course of events has taken place! The flood is coming! Time will destroy this city! Do not proceed to quicken the events that have been ranged against us!”

GAIUS
“We have seen you in the temple courtyard many times, omen reader. And yet you do not call Sulis to us. Neither does High Priest Calpurnius.”

FLAVIA
(indicates Salvador) “But this man calls Sulis with power of summoning as quickly as one may call upon Sol to rise in the morning.”

ALEXANDROS
“I shall call upon the guards to patrol the Sacred Spring and Sulis’ temple at once!”

FLAVIA
“See to it Lord Gaius, that a gathering of the public may attend at the temple precinct around the sacrificial altar.”

GAIUS
“I will, dear lady!”

Pleased with himself, Salvador stands erect whilst Gaius, Flavia and Alexandros make the necessary arrangements. Belator becomes pleased, whilst Apaulia, Calpurnius and Luicius are disturbed.


SCENE #96 – EXT – ROMANS BATHS – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD
At the rear end of the Roman Baths, the Doctor, Nyssa, Billy and Jane arrive.

DOCTOR
“Right! Here’s the door to one of the back entrances to the Baths. Hopefully we should be able to get in there undetected.”

BILLY
“Should?”

NYSSA
“Would the source of the temporal convergence be down there, Doctor? The Roman Baths seems to be what caused it to materialise as well as the tidal wave.”

DOCTOR
“It’s very likely. It’s a good thing we came back to this time while we could. That ceremony the stone mason was talking about may have been the cause of this universal catastrophe.”

BILLY
“So this convergence we’ve been talking about Doctor may have taken place in the temple of Sulis Minerva. Or some other sacred place.”

JANE
“What is Sulis Minerva, I pray? Or should I say…who is Sulis Minerva?”

DOCTOR
“I’m surprised you don’t know much about Bath history, Miss Austen. I assumed a well-bred lady like you would have picked up a little of the city’s history.”

JANE
“This is my first visit to Bath, Doctor. I’ve only been here a mere few weeks.”

DOCTOR
“Bath was occupied by the Romans during this period of Earth history, Miss Austen. Sulis is a water deity in Celtic mythology that the Romans worshipped.”

JANE
“Ah well. Maybe that’s why I chose to ignore that information. For I do not believe in the idle gods that the Romans used to worship.”

DOCTOR
“Knowing the time and culture which you come from, that is an answer I would fully expect to receive from you, Miss Austen.”

BILLY
“Aquae Sulis is a Latin name for Bath, Miss Austen. It means…err…‘the waters of Sulis’.”

NYSSA
“Sulis presided over Bath when the Romans were here. They worshipped her, performing ceremonies, sacrifices and sending coins and scrolls into the Bath waters. That’s what I remember when Billy showed me the handbook.”

BILLY
“I’m glad you remember me telling you that, Nyssa. I would have forgotten that.”

DOCTOR
“They believe in their superstitious ways that the power of the goddess would grant all they require if they offer gifts and sacrifices to obtain and anticipate a successful outcome.”

NYSSA
“Like when a man expects a girl to give something in return if they give her a gift or something without any acknowledgement of feeling.”

JANE
“Insufferable selfishness, these Romans.” (Pause) “Like I said I choose not to acknowledge that information. And I do not see how relevant it could be.”

NYSSA
“It’s relevant, Miss Austen. These Roman Baths have been the centre of attention for the temporal convergence. The shuddering we’ve experienced. We came back to Bath at this time…”

DOCTOR
(interrupts)“Aquae Sulis, Nyssa.”

NYSSA
“Sorry Aquae Sulis…to find out what’s causing it.”

DOCTOR
“And if Sulis Minerva is part of the cause of this catastrophe, then I fear for the worse.”

NYSSA
(bewildered) “What? Doctor, you don’t mean that Sulis Minerva is real?”

DOCTOR
“Well not a real goddess Nyssa, but there’s something emanating from the Bath waters or even the Sacred Spring that’s causing her physical existence to emerge.”

BILLY
(astonished) “How can Sulis Minerva be real, Doctor? She’s just a myth!”

DOCTOR
“Myths have certain rings of truth when you put your mind to it.”

JANE
“I do not believe a word you say, Doctor!”

DOCTOR
“Once we get to the lower levels, Miss Austen, then you might believe me.”

NYSSA
(anxious) “Doctor?!”

DOCTOR
“What is it, Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“There’s something over there! In the far corner of that street!”

They all turn to see what Nyssa sees.

DOCTOR
(cries apprehensively) “Get down!”

BILLY
“What?”

DOCTOR
“Get down!”

They all get down to hide, as they crouch on the floor.

JANE
“Must we get down on this cobbled stone…?”

DOCTOR
(hushes) “Ssh!”

JANE
(whispers) “For what reason are we hiding?”

DOCTOR
(whispers) “Look over there!”

They all look to see, as gurgling and growling noises echo in one of the street alleys.

BILLY
(whispers) “It’s them, Doctor! It’s definitely them!”

JANE
(whispers) “Oh Good God have mercy! It cannot be them again!”

DOCTOR
(whispers) “What you’ve seen them before, Miss Austen?”

JANE
(whispers) “Of course I’ve seen them! You’ve saw them as well, Doctor! They attacked the Assembly Rooms!”

DOCTOR
(whispers) “Really?!”

JANE
(whispers; agitated) “But what are they doing here?! Why do they keep following me?!”

NYSSA
(whispers) “I don’t think they’ve been following you as much as they’ve been following us. We saw those creatures back in Bath in two thousand and eleven. They attacked people in the Pump Room. And they led us to be infected in the Great Bath where the water was contaminated.”

BILLY
(whispers) “Luckily we were rescued in the nick of time. But that was two thousand years in the future when we last saw them.”

DOCTOR
(whispers; anxiously) “Come on! We better get down to the lower levels of the Roman Baths at once before anyone else sees us.”

JANE
(whispers) “But what happens if they follow us? I cannot bear to be reminded of the appearance of those things!”

DOCTOR
(whispers) “The sooner we get this all sorted out, the sooner we get to taking you back home, Miss Austen.”

JANE
(whispers) “That’s very reassuring of you, Doctor.”

NYSSA
(whispers) “Here, Miss Austen. Take my hand. We’ll go down together and keep each other company.”

JANE
(whispers; pleased) “You’re very kind, Miss Nyssa. Thank you.”

The Doctor opens the door, as they’re about to enter and go down the lower levels of the Baths. Before they go down, the Doctor hands something to Billy.

DOCTOR
“Here, Billy. Take this torch. I’ll have one as well. The stairs maybe slippery so be careful.”

BILLY
“Yes, Doctor.”

DOCTOR
(to Nyssa; Jane) “And that goes for you two, too.”

NYSSA
“Yes, Doctor.”

The Doctor and Billy go down first, as they lead the way, torches in hand, with Nyssa and Jane following behind them. They avoid being seen by the creatures, as they come round to where the rear entrance of the Baths is.


SCENE #97 – EXT – ROMANS BATHS – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD
Out on the terrace on the upper levels of the Baths, Salvador looks out to see the Great Bath below. Many Roman civilians frolic and chat away whilst bathing. Salvador observes with cold contempt. Alexandros then appears behind him.

ALEXANDROS
“My lord Salvador.”

Salvador does not respond.

ALEXANDROS
“I must congratulate you! I am amazed at what you managed to do!”

SALAVADOR
“You doubted my ability, Alexandros?”

ALEXANDROS
“No. Not at all. I merely compliment you on your achievements. The people of Aquae Sulis responded to you well. They will look to you with much appreciation!”

SALVADOR
(bitterly) “I do not need you to tell me how great I am. I do not need gratification and flattery from you!”

ALEXANDROS
(solemnly) “Very good, my lord.”

Moment of silence.

SALVADOR
“Where is your accessory?”

ALEXANDROS
“Apaulia? She is with Lady Flavia at this moment.”

SALVADOR
“That is well.” (Pause) “Roman guards have been positioned in the specific locations of this complex, I presume.”

ALEXANDROS
“Yes, my lord. They’re positioned at the Sacred Spring and the temple courtyard. Lord Gaius has seen to it.”

SALVADOR
“Excellent! Once the woman novelist Miss Austen has been taken, then the temporal convergence will be complete! We will have no more interruptions!”

ALEXANDROS
“All will fall into place! Your plans will succeed!”

Another moment of silence.

SALVADOR
“Have you called for the public to attend in the temple precinct?””

ALEXANDROS
“I have. I informed messengers to spread the word. Members of the public should have already attended the precinct.”

SALVADOR
“It would have saved time if you’d informed me sooner and not complimented me so unnecessarily.”

Alexandros is hurt, as he realises his efforts to please Salvador aren’t working.

ALEXANDROS
“What do you intend to do now, Lord Salvador?”

SALVADOR
“I shall dispense a toxin into the waters and see to it that the people of Aquae Sulis are touched by Sulis’ hand when she arises. When Sulis causes chaos to her temple, whoever she touches with her watery hands…”

ALEXANDROS
“…will be turned into one of your minions.”

SALVADOR
“Precisely, mortal. As soon as they are Sulis’, they are mine too.” (Pause) “Now leave me! And attend to the precinct!” (bitterly) “Leave me alone, I say!”

Alexandros is taken back by Salvador’s manner.

ALEXANDROS
“Very well, my lord.”

Alexandros bows before Salvador, as he heads off for the temple precinct. Salvador watches the people in the Great Bath a while longer.

SALVADOR
(quietly) “Enjoy the waters while you still can, mortals of Aquae! For they shall no longer be Sulis’ waters anymore! All of you shall be Salvador’s disciples in the end!”

Salvador turns from the balcony of the terrace and leaves for the Sacred Spring.


SCENE #98 – INT – ROMANS BATHS – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD
Meanwhile with the Doctor, Nyssa, Billy and Jane, they walk down the dark stairway to the lower levels of the Roman Baths. They walk slowly to avoid any unnecessary accidents.

NYSSA
“This stairway can’t be this long, Doctor. We’ve been going for such a time I feel like it’s been hours.”

JANE
“I agree with Miss Nyssa. We must be at the lower levels as you proclaim so well.”

DOCTOR
“Patience ladies, we’ll get to the bottom.”

BILLY
“Depends what we’ll find there, Doctor.”


SCENE #99 – INT – ROMANS BATHS – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD
Eventually, they reach the foot of the steps and are about to enter a dark corridor.

DOCTOR
“Here we are! We’re at the bottom! Don’t see what the fuss was all about!”

JANE
“I would have preferred more conventional means of approaching this area more substantially, Doctor. Rather than this heavy exercise.”

DOCTOR
“Nonsense. You haven’t been out much Miss Austen, but you soon will. More exercise like this will inspire you to write…”

NYSSA
(disturbed; interrupts) “Doctor!”

DOCTOR
“Don’t interrupt, Nyssa! I was saying to Miss Austen…”

NYSSA
(disturbed; interrupts) “But Doctor, look!”

BILLY
“I see it too! There on the floor!”

The Doctor looks to see. A dead body lies on the stonework.

DOCTOR
(realises) “Oh. Yes. Very nasty. Miss Austen, I’d advise you not to look…”

JANE
“Horrid! It’s so horrid! They leave corpses! It’s worse than what I’ve read in Mrs. Radcliff’s novels!”

DOCTOR
(mutters to himself) “Too late.”

Jane becomes shocked and horrified, whilst Nyssa tends to her.

NYSSA
“Here, Miss Austen. Come and sit over here. There’s a large step where we can sit and help you to calm down.”

DOCTOR
(encouragingly) “Yes, Nyssa. Keep Miss Austen, company. Billy and I will deal with this creature on the floor. Hey Billy?”

BILLY
“What, me?”

DOCTOR
“Yes, you Billy. Come on.”

Billy and the Doctor approach the dead body and begin to examine it. They kneel to do this.

DOCTOR
“Interesting. Water still protruding from its mouth whilst it’s dead. Now that is fascinating. Not to mention disturbing.”

BILLY
“Doctor, this creature is the same as the ones we saw earlier before we came down here. And the ones Nyssa and I saw when we were in the Pump Room in two thousand and eleven.”

DOCTOR
“Yes. With this one dead we can get a closer look to what these things are at the physiognomy, anatomy and what functions they perform.”

BILLY
“Doctor, they bite people on the neck! What more do you want? They’re like…zombies! Vampires!”

DOCTOR
“No, not vampires. Certainly the jaw alignment and the intrusion of the fangs on their molar dentures most certainly seem to have that appearance. But I’m afraid there’s more to it than that.”

BILLY
“There is?”

The Doctor thinks for a moment, as he fetches something from his pocket.

DOCTOR
“Billy, help me a moment.”

BILLY
“Anything. What can I do?”

DOCTOR
“Hold these test tubes, will you, while I fetch my glasses!”

Billy takes the test tubes from the Doctor, whilst he slips his glasses on.

DOCTOR
“I’m just going to take a blood sample of this creature as well as a water sample protruding from its mouth. If I compare the difference between the two, I can determine what kind of creatures they are.”

BILLY
“Right.”

DOCTOR
“I’ll also use this astringe while I’m at it.”

Billy holds the test tubes, whilst the Doctor is about to take a water sample with the astringe.

BILLY
(curious) “I wonder how the girls are getting on.”


SCENE #100 – INT – ROMANS BATHS – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD
Not far away, Nyssa is with Jane as she calms her down.

NYSSA
“How do you feel, Miss Austen?”

JANE
(breathes deep) “Do not concern yourself too much on my account, Miss Nyssa. I shall be well again.” (Pause) “I hope you are bearing this horrible business well.”

NYSSA
“Yes I am, thank you. To be honest, I’ve had plenty of experience of horrible things so I shouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t used to it now.”

Moment of silence.

JANE
“I’m grateful we have the opportunity to talk to each other, Miss Nyssa. I wish to ask you some things that concern me.”

NYSSA
“Of course. Ask away.”

JANE
(breathes deep) “How is it that we have met before already in the Pump Room where…or when I was from and yet you still do not know me at present? You seemed to know me when I was in the Assembly Room and in the Pump Room that you did not choose to disclose any knowledge of meeting me at this current time.”

NYSSA
“I’m sorry, Miss Austen. I only wish I could tell you why I do not know you back in seventeen ninety-seven when you claim to have first met me. For me it hasn’t happened yet.”

Jane sighs, as she is deeply troubled.

NYSSA
“I’m sure there’s a good reason why I chose to conceal knowing you when you first met me in seventeen ninety-seven. But I’m not trying to deceive nor intend to cause you harm. Please, trust me!”

Moment of silence.

JANE
“I do trust you, Miss Nyssa. For indeed you and your friends the Doctor and certainly Mr. Walker have been so kind to me! When I was hindered by those people who interrogated me at the Baths, I was pleased at having the Doctor rescue me and you and Mr. Walker taking me into your house here in this changed city of Bath. I marvel at how you come to be here a thousand years before I first met you.”

NYSSA
(giggles) “It is a long story, Miss Austen. And I’m sure you’ll be tired of me telling you it for you wouldn’t understand.”

JANE
“If you had any knowledge of me at all, Miss Nyssa I’m not likely to be sceptical to many things as I may appear.”

Another moment of silence.

JANE
“Do you write, Miss Nyssa?”

NYSSA
(puzzled) “I’m sorry?”

JANE
“Have you ever had the experience of writing any letters or works of fiction yourself? I have written a few works of my own. Some of them have not been published yet I grant you. They are works that are based on the real world I live in.” (Pause) “I find it hard to believe myself that the world in which I lived in could be more as this.”

NYSSA
“I have written a novel yes, Miss Austen.”

JANE
(excitedly) “You have. Oh, I’m pleased to hear of it. How many works have you written, Miss Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“I’ve only written one novel, Miss Austen.”

JANE
“Only one novel? I am astonished. Were you not inspired to write more?”

NYSSA
“The book I was working on was based on my life’s experience of my own home. I was encouraged to improve my literary experience but…I did not see the necessity.”

JANE
“All my works have been on the subject of love and materialism. And I am determined to carry on providing that necessity for enjoyment on subjects from the heart.”

Another moment of silence.

NYSSA
“Have you ever fallen in love, Miss Austen? I don’t mean to be rude.”

JANE
(solemnly) “Once, I had the fortune of a deep acquaintanceship with a gentleman. He was young and boyish. Tom Lefory his name was. I enjoyed my relationship with him. And then…it had to end. And I still feel the brunt of such a closure.”

NYSSA
“Miss Austen, I’m so sorry.”

JANE
(gradually) “Have you ever had a partner of that description, Miss Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“I did. He was my first boyfriend. We shared many evenings together. Gazing at the stars; enjoying the country; sharing each other’s differences.”

JANE
“My gentleman was training to be in the law. I do not know how he fares well in his career. Was your lover of similar status, Miss Nyssa?”

NYSSA
“No. Mine was a waiter at a village pub.”

JANE
(gradually) “I spent many days with Mr. Lefroy. I even modelled my relationship with him in one of my novels.” (sadly) “But as I said. My relationship with Mr. Lefroy had to end.”

NYSSA
“What was the reason for the termination of your relationship with Mr. Lefroy, Miss Austen?”

JANE
(solemnly) “His family objected to the match. He did not have a large fortune to have any prospects of securing me in marriage. At the time I believed all it mattered in marriage was love. But living on love does not secure you in a home without material income. It was one of the gravest days of my life when it had to end.”

NYSSA
“You must have really loved him.”

JANE
(solemnly) “Yes. That to be sure I did love him. And still do.” (Pause) “But what about you, Miss Nyssa? How did the relationship with your lover end, if you pardon the intrusion?”

NYSSA
“No not at all.” (Pause) “I ended my relationship with the man I was with, because he wasn’t able to plan one day ahead. I was too aware of the passage of time and I couldn’t live with the knowledge that he wouldn’t look at me in the same way as he did when we were together. So I ended it. And it was the hardest thing for me to do.” (Pause) “I hope you don’t think that’s wrong, Miss Austen.”

JANE
“No indeed not. You had every right to end your relationship with the man you loved.” (Pause) “But I must admit it sounds a strange way to end a lady’s desire is to be married to anyone who is high in fortune.”

NYSSA
“Oh…I wasn’t considering marriage. It was just…”

Nyssa stops mid-sentence. Moment of silence ensues.

JANE
“Anyway. It was your decision and you have to bear it. You deserve a better man. For it is an inconceivable match. A lady and a waiter.” (Pause) “And you have an admirer in Mr. Walker.”

NYSSA
“Pardon?”

JANE
“Oh I do not know what his fortune is. I admit I believed him to be lacking in it when I first saw him. He dressed as a waiter and I’m uncertain as to whether that is his position or whether he holds another title. But if he is the young man for you, I’m sure it would be a fair match.”

NYSSA
“Oh Billy and I aren’t…we’re not together.”

JANE
“Oh to be sure you are. For I see how both of you interact with each other and enjoy each other’s company. I assume you are engaged to him.”

NYSSA
“Please, Miss Austen. It’s not like that.”

They are then interrupted by the Doctor.

DOCTOR
(calls) “Nyssa? Miss Austen? Come and have a look at this!”

Both Nyssa and Jane get up to join the Doctor and Billy.


SCENE #101 – INT – ROMANS BATHS – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD

DOCTOR
“Ah there you are, you two! See these test tubes?”

JANE
(puzzled) “What do you show us pray, Doctor? I see only two glass tubes containing water.”

DOCTOR
“Exactly. I used an astringe with Billy’s help to eject a blood sample from this creature into one of the test tubes and a water sample from the creature’s mouth into the other.”

NYSSA
“But they’re both similar, Doctor. The test tubes contain water.”

DOCTOR
“Precisely, Nyssa!”

NYSSA
“So the blood sample is actually water!”

DOCTOR
“Right!”

JANE
“What say you, sir? Do you mean to imply the creature’s blood is none other than water?”

DOCTOR
“Ten out of ten, Miss Austen.”

BILLY
“How can that be, Doctor? How can these creatures survive on water? I mean…I know as humans we possess a certain amount of water in our blood.”

NYSSA
“About seventy per cent of water in human blood.”

DOCTOR
“Ah well that’s just what makes it so interesting. These creatures when infecting their victims drain the seventy per cent of water as vampires would normally do when draining blood and the water level within the bloodstream automatically reverts to a materialised state of pure water altogether.”

NYSSA
“But water alone cannot hold the metabolism of a human body altogether, Doctor. Not without blood.”

DOCTOR
“No. But with the structure of white cells in the blood steam it can hold the level whilst the blood is mutating into water.”

JANE
(baffled) “These are strange words you speak Doctor, I do not for the life of me know what you are talking about?”

BILLY
“Like I said before. Join the club, Miss Austen.”

NYSSA
“But what sort of creatures would be able to achieve this mutation? It can’t be human surely.”

DOCTOR
(intrigued) “No. I’ve never seen the likes of these creatures before. Granted they’re humanoid, but I don’t know how or what they appear to be.”

JANE
“But Doctor, you declared they were Volturnans when I last encountered you in Bath!”

DOCTOR
(startled) “What was that, Miss Austen?”

JANE
“Back in Bath, when I first met you and those creatures attacked us in the Assembly Rooms, you stated knowing these creatures by their name. Volturnans, you called them, for you certainly did, sir.”

DOCTOR
“Did I? Well, well, well! That’s fascinating!”

JANE
(surprised) “I’m surprised at you not knowing the name of these creatures. For you were convinced who they were.”

DOCTOR
“Indeed. I must be far cleverer than I thought.” (thinks) “Volturnans? Volturnans? Volt…” (realises) “Of course! Volturnans, how silly of me!”

NYSSA
“You know them, Doctor?!”

DOCTOR
“Yes. Volturnans, from Volturnus their home planet.”

BILLY
“What you mean they’re alien.”

DOCTOR
“Yes. Well no…not exactly. They’re from ancient mythology too. Roman in fact. Volturnus was a Roman God in the ancient times when he was one of the Dii Indigetes. Served by the Flamen Volturnalis in fact. Like Sulis, he was a River God.”

JANE
“Oh please, Doctor. Not more mythological nonsense.”

DOCTOR
“Oh there’s nothing nonsensical about the Volturnans, Miss Austen. They’re an advanced race from far away in the Dii Indigetes and Flamen region of the universe.”

NYSSA
“Advanced race? I don’t see that, Doctor. The way they convert people into one of them.”

BILLY
“There’s another interesting point. Why was it here? I mean dead at the foot of these steps?”

NYSSA
“Yes, I wondered about that. Doctor?”

DOCTOR
(hastily) “We must get to the Temple of Sulis at once.”

BILLY
“Why, what’s the hurry?”

DOCTOR
“If another ceremony commences involving Sulis, I want to prevent it! Now come on!”

The Doctor heads off whilst Nyssa, Billy and Jane are completely baffled. They enter the dark corridor.


SCENE #102 – INT – ROMANS BATHS – DAY, AFTERNOON – SPRING 79 AD
At the Sacred Spring, Salvador enters as he steps to the pool. The water bubbles, as he is about to enter into the pool of water. He stands there proudly and coldly, fetching a bottle of potion out from his attire.

SALVADOR
“So Sulis! You still sleep as I command it!”

The water bubbles more, as it begins to rise for a moment.

SALVADOR
“No, no. Do not wake yet. The Doctor and company are still to be captured. But whilst we wait, I have a gift for you. Not one that the Romans ever conceived.”

The water bubbles less frequently, as its level goes down. Salvador uncorks the bottle and holds it out over the water. With that, Salvador pours the potion into the water. He stands back once he’s poured it in. The water bubbles and churns the infection. Salvador laughs in triumph, whilst the water in the spring bubbles more and the faint sound of a female scream echoes.


© Tim Bradley, 2017

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‘Part Three, Chapter 10’ of ‘The Austen Code’

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‘Part Three, Chapter 12’ of ‘The Austen Code’

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