Weekend at Borges'
“…as I was saying, sir… His Lordship asked me to give you this- it’s a device that allows you to travel through your personal timeline through presets. You are safely enveloped by the contained fractal algorithmic cage, so your current self remains here. You can project your mind back with this, to take care of things. As long as the failsafe is engaged. After you have performed the preset tasks in the allotted timeframes, it will return you here.”
“Yes, yes, twit! Can you tell me what dates I need to address myself to?”
Nemontiarla smiles, tossing her brown hair back in a shower of kempt curls as she hands the ring and the mask to him. “The failsafe,” she adds as he slips the gold ring on his finger and holds the mask to his face, “… is there for your protection. Don’t try to disable it. You can’t. Also, don’t take off the mask until you take off the mask.”
He stares at her from behind the bear’s silver face. The flow of the carved hair fits perfectly against his cheeks, once he’s thinned his face a bit. Of course, only a Time Lord would notice the difference. A little raising of his hairline… some lengthening of his hair.. oh yes. A much better fit. Just like before, when he had shown Flamina… his eyes widen, stretching open like the yawn of a cat’s maw.
“How did I know to do this then? It’s only been a few minutes since the Doctor left...”
He looks down at the golden ring on his finger. It’s a simple band, carved in the style of a poesy, its slim length encased in thorny vines and topped by two crossed rosebuds, outfacing and twined. Must be some kind of time ring, the way it calls to him, whispering.
“You didn’t. And you did. Now go.”
She reaches across his arm to press the interlocking buds carved on the ring; they set in with a tiny click, and the Master’s body begins to vibrate out of itself, creating echoes of him everywhere. One echo, he notices, is impaled on a shard of glass sticking up from the TARDIS’ clockwork-façade temporal engine. The shard is nearly straight up; it must have been the one Flamina…
“And oh yes,” the dowdy librarian muses as she places one hand against the Master’s silver mask, motherly as she drapes rosy tippets from brown monk’s sleeves in his congealing red-orange blood, “…did I mention? There’s one thing that’s absolutely essential to the device’s ability to sidestep the physical laws of your own personal timeline…”
She caresses his face, as a fissure he can’t see creaks past his fingers.
His eyes follow the line of his bleeding hand. The drying blood is shivering on top of the glass, flaking in shapes like rose petals that flutter down to land on his skin. His mind envisions clear water half-filling a tumbler as he looks at the tiny bits of blood, dry or drying, and some still wet. They’re still falling on him, jarred from the flat surface by little waves of energy and sound. That water… it’s about to shudder, and that shudder means…
Her mouth quirks. The scent of roses emanating from her is deafening, the words she speaks, moreso as she presses harder against his chest. The scent becomes a smell; the smell becomes a reek. Rotten roses fill his nose. He struggles to keep his face as far away from her as possible. But piles of petals pool on top of him, falling. Covering his head. He shakes himself, his hair flying in a rage away from his scalp as he cranes his neck first one way then the other, to avoid the smell of death, buried in the scent of dying flowers.
“Didn’t I say?” the Rose Woman whispers, her voice the dregs of a rosy sunset as the jagged bit of floor he’s holding breaks off in his hand and he falls, finally, “…you have to be dead.”