A servant answered the door. Rory showed him the tile and was led into a sitting room that was warm, comfortable, and conspicuously gold-free. As he waited, Rory looked at some of the pictures: paintings and sketches of Geath throughout its long history.
On the shelves and in the cabinets were other treasures: badges of office, old books and documents, portraits of the long-dead great and good. So many people, so many of the symbols and artefacts that must have meant so much to them over the years. Hilthe, Rory understood properly now, was an important part of that history, and this room was a shrine to it. What had the Doctor said? Twelve and a half thousand years.
What would it be like, to have that much weight of the past behind you? How would it feel, knowing that you had failed to persuade your fellow citizens that all those years of tradition were worth keeping? That the long chain of history was ending with you?
Hilthe arrived, wearing a crimson quilted dressing gown and showing no outward sign of minding that she had been woken up in the middle of the night by a near stranger. The famous Geathian hospitality at last. She sat them down by the hearth, and her servant poured glasses of a hot, sweet tea, while Rory explained in the simplest terms possible what it was that they had discovered so far.
'The friend I'm travelling with, the Doctor — he's taken a closer look at the metal that the dragon's made from, and it's worried him.' He took a sip.
'Anyway, the Doctor thinks it might be having some sort of effect on the people of the city.' He sipped again, marshalling his thoughts. 'And that might be why the Teller and Beol have been able to control them. The metal kind of makes people believe what the Teller says.'
'A metal that can change minds?' Hilthe frowned. 'That doesn't sound very likely.'
'I know it sounds... well, weird, but it's the truth.
I've seen it happen. We only arrived in the city this evening, and Amy's already been affected.'
'My other friend. My girlfriend. We heard noises in the council complex and went to investigate. Awful noises — screeching, shrieking. Amy ran off ahead, but when we caught up with her, she hardly seemed to know what we were talking about. I think the metal — Enamour, it's called — makes people forget things, or suppress them, or keep them secret.'
Hilthe sat back in her chair. She studied Rory carefully. 'Strange metals, strange noises — all told, this is a very strange tale.'
'But true. Honestly. If you come and meet the Doctor, he'll explain, better than I can. He's good 68