Brown University holds the typed manuscript of “The Nameless City” and has scans of the entire manuscript on the Brown Digital Repository. When I drew nigh the nameless city I knew it was accursed. I was travelling in a parched and terrible valley under the moon, and afar I saw it protruding. When I drew nigh the nameless city I knew it was accursed. I was traveling in a parched and terrible valley under the moon, and afar I saw it.
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The Virtual Library - Free online ebooks in pdf, epub, site and other formats. Free ebooks in English, French, The Nameless City. English. Book ID: The Nameless City (The Nameless City, #1). ·. ··4, heading there. A city kid, Rufus quickly loses sight of Penny, but while making his way back. The Nameless City. Home · The Nameless City The Nameless Something · Read more Sara Douglass - The Nameless Day. Read more.
I shall always see those steps in my dreams, for I came to learn what they meant. At the time I hardly knew whether to call them steps or mere footholds in a precipitous descent. My mind was whirling with mad thoughts, and the words and warning of Arab prophets seemed to float across the desert from the land that men know to the nameless city that men dare not know.
Yet I hesitated only for a moment before advancing through the portal and commencing to climb cautiously down the steep passage, feet first, as though on a ladder. It is only in the terrible phantasms of drugs or delirium that any other man can have such a descent as mine. The narrow passage led infinitely down like some hideous haunted well, and the torch I held above my head could not light the unknown depths toward which I was crawling. I lost track of the hours and forgot to consult my watch, though I was frightened when I thought of the distance I must have be traversing.
The place was not high enough for kneeling. After that were more of the steep steps, and I was still scrambling down interminably when my failing torch died out. I do not think I noticed it at the time, for when I did notice it I was still holding it above me as if it were ablaze. I was quite unbalanced with that instinct for the strange and the unknown which had made me a wanderer upon earth and a haunter of far, ancient, and forbidden places. In the darkness there flashed before my mind fragments of my cherished treasury of daemonic lore; sentences from Alhazred the mad Arab, paragraphs from the apocryphal nightmares of Damascius, and infamous lines from the delirious Image du Monde of Gauthier de Metz.
Time had quite ceased to exist when my feet again felt a level floor, and I found myself in a place slightly higher than the rooms in the two smaller temples now so incalculably far above my head. I could not quite stand, but could kneel upright, and in the dark I shuffled and crept hither and thither at random. I soon knew that I was in a narrow passage whose walls were lined with cases of wood having glass fronts.
As in that Palaeozoic and abysmal place I felt of such things as polished wood and glass I shuddered at the possible implications. The cases were apparently ranged along each side of the passage at regular intervals, and were oblong and horizontal, hideously like coffins in shape and size. When I tried to move two or three for further examination, I found that they were firmly fastened.
I saw that the passage was a long one, so floundered ahead rapidly in a creeping run that would have seemed horrible had any eye watched me in the blackness; crossing from side to side occasionally to feel of my surroundings and be sure the walls and rows of cases still stretched on.
Man is so used to thinking visually that I almost forgot the darkness and pictured the endless corridor of wood and glass in its low-studded monotony as though I saw it. And then in a moment of indescribable emotion I did see it. Just when my fancy merged into real sight I cannot tell; but there came a gradual glow ahead, and all at once I knew that I saw the dim outlines of a corridor and the cases, revealed by some unknown subterranean phosphorescence.
For a little while all was exactly as I had imagined it, since the glow was very faint; but as I mechanically kept stumbling ahead into the stronger light I realised that my fancy had been but feeble. This hall was no relic of crudity like the temples in the city above, but a monument of the most magnificent and exotic art. Rich, vivid, and daringly fantastic designs and pictures formed a continuous scheme of mural paintings whose lines and colours were beyond description.
The cases were of a strange golden wood, with fronts of exquisite glass, and containing the mummified forms of creatures outreaching in grotesqueness the most chaotic dreams of man. To convey any idea of these monstrosities is impossible. They were of the reptile kind, with body lines suggestion sometimes the crocodile, sometimes the seal, but more often nothing of which either the naturalist or the palaeontologist ever heard.
In size they approximated a small man, and their fore-legs bore delicate and evident feet curiously like human hands and fingers. But strangest of all were their heads, which presented a contour violating all known biological principles. To nothing can such things be well compared — in one flash I thought of comparisons as varied as the cat, the bullfrog, the mythic Satyr, and the human being.
Not Jove himself had had so colossal and protuberant a forehead, yet the horns and the noselessness and the alligator-like jaw placed things outside all established categories. I debated for a time on the reality of the mummies, half suspecting they were artificial idols; but soon decided they were indeed some palaeogean species which had lived when the nameless city was alive.
To crown their grotesqueness, most of them were gorgeously enrobed in the costliest of fabrics, and lavishly laden with ornaments of gold, jewels, and unknown shining metals. The importance of these crawling creatures must have been vast, for they held first place among the wild designs on the frescoed walls and ceiling. With matchless skill had the artist drawn them in a world of. These creatures, I said to myself, were to men of the nameless city what the she-wolf was to Rome, or some totem-beast is to a tribe of Indians.
Holding this view, I could trace roughly a wonderful epic of the nameless city; the tale of a mighty seacoast metropolis that ruled the world before Africa rose out of the waves, and of its struggles as the sea shrank away, and the desert crept into the fertile valley that held it.
I saw its wars and triumphs, its troubles and defeats, and afterwards its terrible fight against the desert when thousands of its people — here represented in allegory by the grotesque reptiles — were driven to chisel their way down through the rocks in some marvellous manner to another world whereof their prophets had told them.
It was all vividly weird and realistic, and its connection with the awesome descent I had made was unmistakable. I even recognized the passages. Now that the light was better I studied the pictures more closely and, remembering that the strange reptiles must represent the unknown men, pondered upon the customs of the nameless city.
Many things were peculiar and inexplicable. The civilization, which included a written alphabet, had seemingly risen to a higher order than those immeasurably later civilizations of Egypt and Chaldaea, yet there were curious omissions. I could, for example, find no pictures to represent deaths or funeral customs, save such as were related to wars, violence, and plagues; and I wondered at the reticence shown concerning natural death.
It was as though an ideal of immortality had been fostered as a cheering illusion. Still nearer the end of the passage was painted scenes of the utmost picturesqueness and extravagance: In these views the city and the desert valley were shewn always by moonlight, golden nimbus hovering over the fallen walls, and half-revealing the splendid perfection of former times, shown spectrally and elusively by the artist.
The paradisal scenes were almost too extravagant to be believed, portraying a hidden world of eternal day filled with glorious cities and ethereal hills and valleys. At the very last I thought I saw signs of an artistic anticlimax. The paintings were less skillful, and much more bizarre than even the wildest of the earlier scenes.
They seemed to record a slow decadence of the ancient stock, coupled with a growing ferocity toward the outside world from which it was driven by the desert. The forms of the people — always represented by the sacred reptiles — appeared to be gradually wasting away, through their spirit was shewn hovering above the ruins by moonlight gained in proportion.
Emaciated priests, displayed as reptiles in ornate robes, cursed the upper air and all who breathed it; and one terrible final scene shewed a primitive-looking man, perhaps a pioneer of ancient Irem, the City of Pillars, torn to pieces by members of the elder race.
I remember how the Arabs fear the nameless city, and was glad that beyond this place the grey walls and ceiling were bare. As I viewed the pageant of mural history I had approached very closely to the end of the low-ceiled hall, and was aware of a gate through which came all of the illuminating phosphorescence.
Creeping up to it, I cried aloud in transcendent amazement at what lay beyond; for instead of other and brighter chambers there was only an illimitable void of uniform radiance, such one might fancy when gazing down from the peak of Mount Everest upon a sea of sunlit mist. Behind me was a passage so cramped that I could not stand upright in it; before me was an infinity of subterranean effulgence.
Reaching down from the passage into the abyss was the head of a steep flight of steps — small numerous steps like those of black passages I had traversed — but after a few feet the glowing vapours concealed everything. Swung back open against the left-hand wall of the passage was a massive door of brass, incredibly thick and decorated with fantastic bas-reliefs, which could if closed shut the whole inner world of light away from the vaults and passages of rock. I looked at the step, and for the nonce dared not try them.
I touched the open brass door, and could not move it.
Then I sank prone to the stone floor, my mind aflame with prodigious reflections which not even a death-like exhaustion could banish. As I lay still with closed eyes, free to ponder, many things I had lightly noted in the frescoes came back to me with new and terrible significance — scenes representing the nameless city in its heyday — the vegetations of the valley around it, and the distant lands with which its merchants traded. The allegory of the crawling creatures puzzled me by its universal prominence, and I wondered that it would be so closely followed in a pictured history of such importance.
In the frescoes the nameless city had been shewn in proportions fitted to the reptiles. I wondered what its real proportions and magnificence had been, and reflected a moment on certain oddities I had noticed in the ruins. I thought curiously of the lowness of the primal temples and of the underground corridor, which were doubtless hewn thus out of deference to the reptile deities there honoured; though it perforce reduced the worshippers to crawling.
Perhaps the very rites here involved crawling in imitation of the creatures. No religious theory, however, could easily explain why the level passages in that awesome descent should be as low as the temples — or lower, since one could not even kneel in it.
As I thought of the crawling creatures, whose hideous mummified forms were so close to me, I felt a new throb of fear. Mental associations are curious, and I shrank from the idea that except for the poor primitive man torn to pieces in the last painting, mine was the only human form amidst the many relics and symbols of the primordial life.
But as always in my strange and roving existence, wonder soon drove out fear; for the luminous abyss and what it might contain presented a problem worthy of the greatest explorer that a weird world of mystery lay far down that flight of peculiarly small steps I could not doubt, and I hoped to find there those human memorials which the painted corridor had failed to give.
The frescoes had pictured unbelievable cities, and valleys in this lower realm, and my fancy dwelt on the rich and colossal ruins that awaited me. My fears, indeed, concerned the past rather than the future. Not even the physical horror of my position in that cramped corridor of dead reptiles and antediluvian frescoes, miles below the world I knew and faced by another world of eery light and mist, could match the lethal dread I felt at the abysmal antiquity of the scene and its soul.
An ancientness so vast that measurement is feeble seemed to leer down from the primal stones and rock-hewn temples of the nameless city, while the very latest of the astounding maps in the frescoes shewed oceans and continents that man has forgotten, with only here and there some vaguely familiar outlines.
Of what could have happened in the geological ages since the paintings ceased and the death-hating race resentfully succumbed to decay, no man might say. Life had once teemed in these caverns and in the luminous realm beyond; now I was alone with vivid relics, and I trembled to think of the countless ages through which these relics had kept a silent deserted vigil.
Michael has over titles to his credit and has written in a variety of genres including fantasy, science fiction and horror, and is considered an authority on mythology and folklore. In , The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, the first in a groundbreaking young adult fantasy series, launched straight into the New York Times bestsellers list, spending sixteen weeks in the top ten.
All six books in the series have been New York Times bestsellers and the series is now published in thirty-seven countries. He lives in Dublin. Find out more about Michael at www. You can also follow him on Twitter: twitter. Our age is not measured in centuries or millennia or even aeons.
We have seen the rise and fall of solar systems. We have observed galaxies spin and turn, and, once, we watched the entire universe die, only to be instantly reborn in music and light. Before the Doctor, before the Master, before Gallifrey and the Time Lords, our race ruled the universe. Gone now. All gone.
Just we few remain. But while the rest of our race faded, their atoms mixed amongst the stars, we clung to a semblance of life, dancing to the Music of the Spheres. Our rage kept us in existence, and our loathing sustained us.
We will have our revenge. We will rule again. We are the Devourers of Worlds, the last of the Old Ones. We are the Archons. The sound was nearly lost in the noise of the busy Saturday-afternoon traffic and the crowds bustling along Charing Cross Road.
A few people glanced up and looked around. Seeing nothing wrong, they went on their way.
The Nameless City
A second shout rang out, almost completely drowned by the blare of car horns. Only a tall dark-haired young man standing outside a shabby antiquarian bookshop continued to look, head tilted to one side, eyes half closed, listening intently. None of the passers-by paid him any attention and, since this was London and the city was awash with the latest fashions, no one even blinked at his oversized black turtleneck sweater or the fact that he was wearing a red Scottish-tartan kilt, complete with sporran.
The young man used a trick his father had taught him when theyd been hunting grouse in the Highlands. He deliberately focused on the sounds first, the cars and buses; next, the street clatter, the dull hum of shouts, the buzz of laughter and then he tuned them out.
He waited for something out of the ordinary, something odd, alien. Something like The slap of leather on stone. It had come from behind him. Moving quickly now, he followed the sound. It led him to the mouth of a cobbled alley. He glanced down: it was empty.
However, he knew with absolute certainty that this narrow tube of stone would have carried any sounds out into the street beyond. Ducking into the alleyway, he blinked, allowing his eyes to adjust to the gloom, before darting forward.
The alley curved slightly to the left and as he rounded the corner he discovered the source of the noise. A bearded grey-haired man lay sprawled across the filthy stones, surrounded by a scatter of antique leather-bound books. An enormous greasy-haired thug crouched over the figure, searching through a battered satchel, pulling out books and tossing them to one side. Please please be careful, the old man groaned as each leather-clad volume hit the ground with a distinctive slap. Wheres the money?
Wheres the shops takings?
There is none the old man said quickly. We sell antiquarian books. But some days we dont sell anything I dont believe you. Empty your pockets. No, the old man said defiantly. The thief smiled, thin lips peeling back from yellowed teeth. Anger flashed in the young Scotsmans eyes.
He knew he shouldnt get involved. Hed been entrusted with a critical mission and had promised not to delay, but hed also been raised to a strict code of honour, which included protecting the weak and respecting elders. Keeping close to the walls, he hurried forward, well-worn soft-leather-soled shoes making no sound on the cobblestones. I said, Empty your pockets.
The thug tossed the satchel to one side and loomed over the man lying on the ground. Suddenly, a shout cut through the air: a guttural snarl that shocked the thief into immobility. He caught a glimpse of a shadow in the corner of his eye the instant before a tremendous blow to his side sent him crashing into the alley wall.
His head cracked against the old stones, and red and blue spots of cold light danced before his eyes as he sank to his knees. The thief blinked, watching a figure in a red skirt no, a kilt swim into focus. Scrambling to his feet, he threw an unsteady punch and then something hit him in the centre of the chest and he sat down hard, spine jarring on the cobbles. If you know whats good for you, youll run away now. And you wont look back. Although the Scotsman had spoken in little more than a whisper, the threat was clear.
Bending double, with both arms wrapped round his bruised chest, the thief backed away, then turned and ran. The Scotsman knelt, offering his hand to the old man and gently easing him into a sitting position.
Are you hurt?
Only my pride and my trousers. The grey-haired man struggled slowly to his feet, brushing his hair back off his high forehead. And my poor books. He moved to pick them up, but the Scotsman was already darting around, collecting the scattered volumes. Youre very brave, the man said, his deep voice echoing off the alley walls. Well, I couldnt just walk away, now could I? Yes, you could have. Others did. The older man stuck out a leather-gloved hand.
Thank you, thank you very much. He smiled through a neat, grey-flecked goatee beard, his eyes dark and curious beneath heavy brows. Im Professor Thascalos. Im Jamie, Jamie McCrimmon. I thought I recognised a Gaelic war cry. Creag an tuire. What is that The Boars Rock? Jamie handed over the books. You mean the kilt wasnt a clue?
The old man smiled. Fashions nowadays. He shrugged. Who knows what you young people are wearing? Jamie picked up the satchel and held it open as the professor carefully brushed off each book and returned it to the bag. Some of the leather bindings had been scuffed and torn when theyd hit the cobbles and one cover had come away entirely. You were in the military?
Jamie shook his head. Not really. You reacted like a soldier, Professor Thascalos said. A shout at the last minute to disorientate the enemy, followed by an overwhelming attack. That only comes with experience. Youve been in battle.
The young Scotsman nodded slightly. Aye, well, it was a long time ago, he said, his accent suddenly pronounced. And it didnt end well. He wasnt going to tell the professor that the last battle hed been in had taken place over two hundred and twenty years ago. He handed the final book to the professor. Is there much damage? I can have the worst ones re-bound. I should not have come down this alleyway, but I was taking a short cut to my shop.
Im a bookseller on Charing Cross Road, he added, and then lifted the bag of books.
But you probably guessed that. I did. Jamie grinned. Will you report this to the police? Of course. If youre all right then, Ill be on my way.
The professor reached into an inside pocket and pulled out a wallet. Here, let me give you something He stopped suddenly, seeing the look on Jamies face. Not money then, but here Rummaging in the bag, he found a small book, wrapped in a black silk handkerchief. I dont want payment Not payment a gift, the bookseller said. A thank-you.
He handed the package to Jamie, who took it and turned it round in his large hands, folding back the silk to trace a curling outline embossed into the books dark leather cover. It looks old. It is. It is one of the oldest books I possess. Jamie opened it. The thick pages were covered in blocky black print in a language he thought might be German. It must be very valuable. It is, the professor repeated, but I want you to have it. You saved my life today, young man, he said gruffly.
It is the least I can give you. I cannot read the writing. There are few who can. But keep it. I insist. You can always give it as a gift to someone you think might appreciate it.
He suddenly reached out and shook Jamies hand. Now I have delayed you and taken up far too much of your time. Thank you.
You are a credit to your clan. The professor stood back and swung his satchel on to his shoulder, then turned and strode down the alley. He raised his gloved hand and his voice echoed off the stones. Take care, Jamie McCrimmon, he called. Enjoy your book. And then he rounded the corner and vanished. Jamie looked at the black book, rubbing his thumbs over the surface. The leather felt oily and slightly damp.
He guessed it had fallen in a puddle. Bringing it to his nose he breathed in slowly. He thought he smelled the faintest odour of fish and sea air from the pages. Shrugging, he wrapped it back in its silk and shoved it in his belt as he hurried away. Maybe the Doctor would like it. Professor Thascalos paused at the end of the alley. He could hear Jamies footsteps fading away in the opposite direction.
He turned his head to look at a huge figure lurking in the shadows. The greasyhaired thief stepped forward, mouth wide in a broad, gap-toothed grin.
You did well, the professor said quietly. He pulled out a wad of money from an inside pocket of his greatcoat. We agreed on fifty, but heres sixty. He peeled off six crisp ten-pound notes and handed them across.
A bonus for getting hit. The man looked at the thick bundle of notes and he licked his lips. Youre thinking foolish thoughts now, the professor said quietly again, his face settling into an implacable mask. Dangerously stupid thoughts, he added icily. The thug looked into the professors dark eyes, and whatever he saw there made him step back in alarm. Yes yes, fifty. And the bonus. Very generous. Good boy.
Now, go away. The professor tossed the bag of books at the big man. Here, get rid of these for me. I thought they were valuable. Only one, the professor muttered to himself, looking back down the alley. And that was invaluable. Stepping into the shadows, the professor watched as the thief slid unnoticed into the throng of people walking past.
Then he pulled a slender metal cylinder from his pocket, twisted it counterclockwise and held it to his thin lips. It is done, he said in a language that had not been heard on Earth since the fall of Atlantis. I have completed my half of the bargain. I trust, when the time comes, you will honour your part. A thread of faint ethereal music hung on the air. The professor snapped the cylinder closed and strode away, a rare smile on his lips.
None of the tourists gave it a second glance, though a few of the local traders were a little bemused by its sudden appearance. It had recently been announced that Londons police boxes would soon be phased out and demolished. Jamie McCrimmon slowed as he rounded the corner of the gallery and then stopped. There were tourists everywhere; some were even taking photographs using the blue box as a background.
A family of what could only be American tourists in florid shirts, matching shorts and sandals was standing right up against the door. Ah, there you are! Jamie whirled round. The Doctor was standing behind him, looking his usual rumpled and dishevelled self.
Polly, one of the Doctors companions who had known him before hed changed, once described him as looking like an unmade bed. Jamie thought it was a good description. The Doctors mop of thick black hair was uncombed, his collar was rumpled and a bow tie sat slightly cock-eyed round his neck. He was wearing a black frock coat that had gone out of fashion decades ago over black-and-white checked trousers, which managed to be both too large and just a little too short.
It was impossible to put an age on him: he looked to be in his mid-forties, but the Scotsman knew that the Doctor was at least five hundred years old. Jamie still hadnt decided if he was a genius or a madman. Or both. The Doctor was licking an ice-cream cone. What kept you? There was a wee spot of bother Jamie began.
Did you get everything on my list? Nothing, Jamie said ruefully. I went to all the chemists I could find none of them had even heard of the stuff on your list, except the gold and mercury. The Doctor bit off the top of the cone. Then we have a problem, he said, frowning, deep lines etching into his face. A serious problem. Jamie nodded towards the police box. I know. How are we going to get inside? The Doctor silently handed Jamie the half-eaten cone. He reached into an inside pocket and pulled out a slender wooden recorder decorated in swirls of blue.
When I say run, run! Oh, and you might want to stick your fingers in your ears, he added, raising the recorder to his lips. Even with his fingers jammed in his ears and with cold ice cream dripping down the side of his neck from the cone clutched in one hand Jamie could still hear the sound vibrating through the air.
Pressure built up in his ears and all the nerves in his teeth protested. Birds nestling in the trees and pecking on the ground erupted into the air in an explosion of flapping wings. He darted forward, head tilted towards the sky, finger pointing upwards. What is that? There just there. Everyone looked up, following the wheeling, darting birds. The Doctor brushed past the staring tourists, stepped up to the police box and quickly unlocked it. He opened the door just wide enough to slip through and pushed it closed promptly after Jamie squeezed inside.
We dont want anyone peeping in now, do we? The Doctor grinned and clapped his hands in delight. Simplicity itself! There are very few things that a good diversion wont solve. No matter how many times he travelled in the extraordinary machine, Jamie knew he would never get used to the idea that the Doctors ship the TARDIS was bigger on the inside than it appeared on the outside. He had no idea how many rooms, galleries, museums and libraries were housed in the extraordinary craft.
The Nameless City: The Stone Heart
There was even supposed to be an Olympic-sized swimming pool somewhere in the basement, but hed never managed to find it. Jamie stopped, suddenly conscious that the beautiful and ornate central console, which was at the heart of the machine, had been dismantled and lay strewn in pieces around the hexagonal room. The floor was scattered with coils of wire, glass panels and hundreds of oddly shaped cogs and wheels.
The Doctor tiptoed his way through the mess. Touch nothing, he warned. I know exactly where everything is. His foot struck a squat metal cylinder, sending it spinning into a little pyramid of ball bearings, which scattered in every direction, ricocheting around the room.
Well, almost everything. You can fix it, cant you? Jamie said carefully. When hed left a few hours earlier, the Doctor had been lying flat on his back, head buried under the central console, whistling softly to himself. The Doctor stood in the centre of the mess and spread his arms wide. Not this time. Im afraid were stuck, he said ruefully. The Time Rotor is damaged; I darent take us back into the time stream with it in its present condition. Jamie stepped over a coil of cable, which writhed on the floor trying to follow him.
The Doctor had once told him that these ships were not made but grown, and were actually sentient in their own way. Now, when you say stuck? As in stuck. Unable to move. The Doctors humour changed in an instant. Are you sure you couldnt find anything on my list? Nothing, Jamie said. He carefully skirted round a wire honeycomb filled with tiny winking stones. Cant we download the gold? Jamie pulled the handwritten list out of his sleeve and unfolded it.
A ton of gold, he read. Doctor, unless we rob the Bank of England, were never going to find a ton of gold. And, even if we bought it legally, it would cost a fortune. I checked this mornings Financial Times.
Gold is priced at around thirty-seven American dollars an ounce. I dont know how many ounces there are in a ton Thirty-two thousand, the Doctor said immediately. Jamie tried to do the maths in his head and failed.
One million, one hundred and eighty-four thousand dollars, the Doctor said in exasperation. Didnt you learn anything in school? I never went to school. The Doctor suddenly looked embarrassed. No, of course you didnt. Silly me. He waved an arm vaguely in the direction of the roof. Money is not a problem. Theres plenty upstairs in one of the bedrooms. And theres lots of jewellery we can sell. Ive still got the pieces Tutankhamen gave me. Ill never wear them. He nudged a spring with his foot.
It bounced a metre into the air, pinged off a wall and danced around the room. Oh dear, oh dear. He patted the gutted remains of the central console, then turned, leaned against it and slowly sank to the floor, legs stretched in front of him. Theres only so much I can do for the old girl. I can put the bits back together, but if shes going to heal, she needs the equivalent of a blood transfusion: gold, mercury and Zeiton No one has even heard of Zeiton-7, Jamie said, scanning the list again.
He sat on the floor alongside the Doctor. Cant you He paused. I dont know do something? Im a doctor, not a magician. The Doctor looked around the control room and slowly shook his head.
Were trapped in London, Jamie. Well be forever stuck in this place and time, he added softly. And there was so much I wanted to see and do, so much I wanted to show you. They sat in silence for a long time. Jamie shifted on the hard, uncomfortable floor and something dug into his side. He reached into his belt and his fingers touched the soft silk wrapping round the strange little book. Ive got a present for you, he said, suddenly remembering.
Maybe itll cheer you up. The Doctor looked up. I quite like presents. He frowned. You know, no one has given me a present for a very long time. Well, not since my three-hundredth birthday, or was it my fourhundredth? What is it? Well, I was given this as a reward for something I did this morning. Its a book and I know you like books. I was told it was very old. A bit like me, the Doctor said, smiling. Aged, like a fine wine Or a mouldy cheese, Jamie murmured with a grin.
Here, Id like you to have it. He slid the book out of the silk wrapping and handed it over. The leather felt slightly greasy and flesh-warm.
The Doctors long fingers closed round the scuffed black cover. Almost automatically, his thumbs began to trace the raised design. Looks like a type of cephalopod A seffle-a-what? Resting the book on his knees, the Doctor opened it to the title page, the thick parchment crackling as it turned. I dont quite recognise the language, he murmured, index finger tracing the individual letters.
This looks like Sumerian, but this here is certainly one of the Vedic scripts, while this is Rongorongo from Easter Island. No, no, Im wrong. This is older much, much older. Where did you say you got it? But before his companion could reply, the Doctors index finger, which had been following the words in the centre of the title page, stopped, and he automatically read it aloud: The Necronomicon With a shriek of pure terror, the Doctor flung the book away from him. The Necronomicon.
In a place abandoned by time, in the heart of an immeasurably tall black-glass pyramid, the words rang like a bell. The sound hung in the air, trembling, vibrating off the glass to create thin ethereal music.
Three sinuous shapes wrapped in long trails of ragged shadow rose from a silver pool to twist through the rarefied air, moving to the gossamer music. Two more pairs detached from the four cardinal points of the thick darkness and joined the intricate mid-air dance. The seven curled and wound round one another, folding and bending to form arcane and ornately beautiful patterns, before they finally settled into a perfect black circle.
The towers mirrored walls and floor made it look as if the darkness was alive with huge unblinking eyes. Oh, Jamie, what have you done? The Doctors voice was shaking.
See a Problem?
I dont know I mean, its just a book. Oh, this is more, much more, than a book. The Doctor and Jamie stared at the leather-bound volume on the floor. Caught in a tangle of wire and cogs, it was pulsating with a slow, steady rhythm. Its like a heartbeat, Jamie whispered. Doctor, I dont I mean, I just the young Scotsman said in confusion.
He leaned forward. Do you want me to throw it out? The Doctor raised his hand. Dont touch it! If you value your life and your sanity, youll not touch it again. He opened and closed his right hand into a fist. The tips of his fingers where they had touched the book were bruised and blackened. The books cover suddenly strobed with dull red light and a tracery of thin lines flickered across it, briefly outlining the shape of a tentacled creature etched into the black leather. The heavy cover flew open and the thick pages lifted and flapped, blowing in an unfelt wind.
It finally fell open at a page showing a black-and-grey illustration of narrow pyramids and towers. Abruptly, a series of tiny golden lights like windows appeared on the image. A spark leaped from the pages into the tangle of wires cradling it. A second spark like a tiny yellow cinder billowed up and hung in the air, before seesawing into a spiders web of fine silver wire on the floor.
The wire immediately twisted and trembled, pulsating red and black. A fountain of sparks then erupted from the book and scattered across the floor, bouncing like tiny sizzling beads. Wires quivered and shifted with a surge of power; cogs and wheels turned and spun of their own accord. And then the control console coughed. It was an almost human sound, a cross between a breathy sigh and a wheeze.
Oh no, no, no, no, no, no The Doctor scrambled to his feet and reached for the lever in the centre of the console. He pulled hard and it came away in his hand. He looked at it blankly. Well, thats never happened before. The Necronomicon had now turned into a sizzling rectangle of sparks and the usually dry, slightly musty air of the TARDIS became foul with the stink of rotting fish. Whats happening, Doctor? Jamie asked. He watched, wide-eyed, as the mess of wires, cogs, wheels and dismantled instruments was drawn back towards the central console, as if pulled by a magnetic force.
He scrambled out of the way as a cable was sucked back under the desk, writhing like a snake. Jamie shouted. But the Doctor was incapable of speech. The air was full of components, winging their way to the control unit. He danced out of the way as a thick tube of metal whipped towards him, plunging deep into the interior of the console.
Black smoke filled the room. I think were OK, the Doctor said, as the incredible movement died down. He grinned and shook his head. For a moment there, I thought we were going to take off, he added shakily, but theres no power, theres no way we can The TARDIS lights flickered, dimmed and then blazed. And the ship wheezed again. A dry, rasping intake of breath, then a sighing exhalation.
And again, faster this time. Then a familiar, unmistakable sound. I thought you said we were trapped? The Doctor waved his hands at the remaining knot of wires on the floor.
We are. We shouldnt be able to go anywhere. We shouldnt be able to move! The main lights dimmed and all the dials on the console lit up with a strange, sickly green glow. The faintest vibration hummed through the floor. Jamie felt a shifting in his inner ear and then sudden pressure in his stomach.
Were moving, he said. And fast too. The Doctor rested his fingertips against the metal, feeling it shiver. Very fast. I wonder where were going? He looked down at the book on the floor. The sparks had died away and the book had snapped shut.
The black cover was leaking gossamer-grey smoke. The edges of the white paper were burned black, but the book seemed to have suffered no other damage. He made no move to touch it.
Where did you get the book, Jamie? I tried to tell you. I rescued an old man who was being robbed. Well, maybe he wasnt that old. He gave me this book as a reward. I did tell him I would not be able to read it and so he told you to give it to someone as a present. Jamie nodded. It was meant for you, wasnt it?
The Nameless City
It was. Have you any idea who it was? The Doctor shrugged. When youve lived as long as I have, then you make the odd enemy or two. He nodded towards the book. Though not that many who would be this powerful. However, there is one who was always fascinated by this terrible book A thin thread of pain crept into the Doctors voice.
Ive not seen him in a long time. The Necronomicon is the Book of Dead Names. It is a collection of dark and terrible lore. And it is old. Even older than you? Jamie asked with a shaky laugh. Older than the Earth. Even older than my homeworld.
Older than most solar systems. It was written by one of the races who ruled the galaxy in the very distant past. This is the sum total of their knowledge and speaks of the Time before Time.
And this race, Jamie said quietly, Im guessing they are not your friends? Oh, they are long dead. They exist only in the memories of a half-dozen scattered worlds, where they are still worshipped as gods. Ive come up against their worshippers, though, he added softly.
They didnt like me very much. Have you any idea where were going? The Doctor knelt and peered at the smouldering book, his nostrils flaring. It stinks of old power and foul secrets. Then he sat back, dusting off his hands. Im reluctant to lay my hands on it again. My touch obviously activated it. I was able to handle it.
But youre just a human. Tell me, he said, when you were given the book, was it wrapped in a cloth? Jamie reached into his belt and sheepishly held out the square of black silk. The Doctor leaned forward until his nose almost touched the material. He breathed deeply and his eyes closed. Ah, now theres a familiar scent. This old man: tall, dark eyes, goatee beard touched with grey, black gloves. Yes, thats him. And gloves, yes, he had gloves.
He said his name was Professor Tas Tascal? Thascalos, the Doctor whispered. Thats it. Who is it? Someone Ive not encountered in a long time. But at least we now know where this is taking us, the Doctor said grimly. The Doctor focused on gingerly wrapping the black silk cloth round the smoking book. Why, to our doom, Jamie. To our doom. And the book pulsed in time with his words. Eight hours as you measure time, the Doctor said absently.
He was staring intently at a small globe that looked like an oversized light bulb as he carefully twisted two wires silver and gold round its base. It can, and usually it does, the Doctor grunted. So whats taking it so long? During our time together, weve never travelled this far before. The globe flickered, faded, then blinked alight. Ah, success! You do know I am a genius?
So you keep telling me, Jamie muttered. The globe was now glowing with a pale-blue light. The Doctor stared intently at it, turning it slowly with his fingers.
Ive managed to connect this to the exterior time and space sensors. Now, let us see The globe turned black for an instant and then was suddenly speckled with silver dots. A long misty white streak appeared across its centre. The Doctor gasped in horror. Oh my giddy aunt. Oh crumbs. What do you see? Jamie demanded, peering at the image. The Doctor pointed to the globe. Jamie stared and then shrugged. The dots are stars the Doctor said in exasperation.
And the white streak across the middle Jamie began, but almost immediately knew the answer to the question. Thats the Milky Way. It seems very far away. Thats because it is. As they were speaking, the long cloud of the distant Milky Way faded and vanished into the blackness of space. Then, one by one, the stars winked out until nothing remained but complete darkness. Has it stopped working? No, the Doctor said glumly.
Its still working. But what happened to all the stars?It was meant for you, wasnt it? I did tell him I would not be able to read it and so he told you to give it to someone as a present. Do you know what we have needed all these millennia? He caught a glimpse of a shadow in the corner of his eye the instant before a tremendous blow to his side sent him crashing into the alley wall. The distant cityscape shifted into sharp focus: a vast metropolis of towering ebony-glass buildings razor-etched against the starless sky, each one outlined and traced with threads of gold.
In the frescoes the nameless city had been shewn in proportions fitted to the reptiles.
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