There was still an acrid smell of smoke and burnt furnishings in the air when Kristoph looked at his family home in the cold light of day. The visual signs of a near disaster were clear, too. Soot had fallen on top of the pristine snow, making the gardens look a dismal grey.

Around the side and back it was even more miserable to look at. He viewed the destroyed garage philosophically. It was a purely functional building that could be replaced quite quickly and inexpensively. Perhaps it might be better to have it further away from the house this time.

The stable could be rebuilt easily enough, too. That wasn’t so bad. Meanwhile Rodan and the horses were happy enough at Maison D’Alba.

But the east wing was another matter. It was completely gutted, three of the four outer walls were standing, but little else. The roof beams had burnt through, bringing tiles crashing down into the destroyed rooms below. His feet crunched on broken masonry and scorched remains as he walked through the dismal ruin.

“My Lord….” Kristoph turned to see his butler, Caolin, standing in the same devastation. “There is something you should see – it was revealed when the men started to carry away the debris….”

“Please tell me there wasn’t a body beneath all this after all,” Kristoph answered. Caolin was quick to reassure him.

“Nothing of the sort, sir. But come and see this. It is a puzzle to us all.”

Caolin led him to the part of the ruin where the fire had burnt longest and hottest – the room where it had begun. It had been the footmen’s room, where the younger male staff relaxed after their duties were done, smoking, playing card games, or other amusements. The fire was most likely caused by a cigar that was carelessly put out.

“I shall install smoke alarms when the building is restored,” Kristoph said. “My wife has already castigated me for not having them all along.” Caolin looked puzzled. “It is an idea from Earth that I think we could certainly copy here on Gallifrey,” he explained. “But what is it you wanted to show me?”

“This, sir,” Caolin answered, pointing to a piece of floor where the debris had been partially cleared already. There had been a good carpet in the room, of course, and beneath that, wooden floorboards. Both had burnt away, revealing a stone flagged floor beneath it.

“There’s a ring set into that flag,” Caolin pointed out. “A way down to a cellar, perhaps?”

“I have never heard of there being a cellar beneath the east wing,” Kristoph mused, but his curiosity was roused. The dismal thoughts of rebuilding part of his home were dispelled as he and his butler pulled at the wide, heavy flag that may not have been moved for thousands of years.

“There are stairs,” he noted. “Bring a torch. Let’s see what’s down here.”

The stone-cut stairs were in surprisingly good condition. The air was stale, but breathable.

“I believe it may have been hermetically sealed,” Kristoph said as they reached the bottom of the stairs and their feet touched upon a floor of obsidian. He bent and touched the cold black substance. The floor of the Panopticon was made of the same material. It was very expensive, supposedly everlasting. He looked up and noted that the ceiling was made of obsidian, too.

“Remarkable,” Caolin said in an awed tone.

“Very remarkable. Even if the fire had raged hotter than a volcano this room would have survived.”

“But why is it here?” Caolin asked. He shone the torch around and saw that it was far from an empty space. There were shelves lining the walls. The nearest contained huge leather bound books. Kristoph examined the spines carefully then with a deep, awe-struck exclamation he took one of the volumes down and read several pages, turning the pages carefully.

“These are the memoirs of my grandfather, Chrístõ Dracœfire. Five volumes of them, all in his own hand – recording his travels and his adventures – the exploits by which he lived up to his name.” He put the volume back reverently. “I always thought most of it was legend – a grandfather who fought dragons. When I was a boy he was an old man. He didn’t look like an adventurer. I really did think it was just stories to amuse me.”

Caolin nodded politely. He, too, knew the legends of his Lordship’s great lineage, but it wasn’t his place to question them. He watched as his master opened a cupboard next to the bookshelf to reveal a magnificent oil painting of a man in gilded armour and a woman with flowing black hair and her own breastplate of silver. They were both fighting a dragon with fearsome claws and great beating wings as well as fire coming from its mouth.

“Lord Dracœfire and his wife, the beautiful Kierinia,” Kristoph said. “There is a small version of this painting in the Dower House, showing the detail of the two figures and the beast. But this is a huge canvas with the landscape around them in full glorious colour. I have never even seen this.”

“It is a good painting, sir,” Caolin agreed. “It would look well in the grand dining room.”

“It very well might,” Kristoph said. He closed the cupboard. It would stay where it was for now, not least because there was still much to see.

“What are these?” Caolin asked. A glass fronted cupboard held scrolls tied with leather strips. Kristoph carefully opened one of them and opened it out as far as his arms could stretch.

“Star charts,” he answered. “Hand drawn star charts of all things – carefully plotted and filled in with stars and the planets that orbit them. Beautiful workmanship.”

“Who does such work on Gallifrey?” Caolin asked. “We have computers that generate any map a Time Lord would need.”

“There is no NEED for them,” Kristoph agreed as he studied the signature on the corner of the chart. “These were a labour of love. They are the work of Chrístõ Mal Loup, the great commander of star fleets who crossed galaxies in the name of Gallifrey. He must have spent the long hours of travel drawing these masterpieces. They are magnificent.”

He returned the scroll carefully to the place where it had lain for century after century without suffering any degradation and moved on to a bookcase that was filled three levels deep with the sort of volumes he recognised well enough. There were whole archive full of them in the Halls of Justice in Athenica and at the Citadel.

“Yes,” he confirmed, looking into one of the great ledgers. “These are the books of justice kept by my ancestor, Chrístõ Diamaendhaert. He is the one who had the east wing built, of course, as his own Session House for dispensing law. I think he must have built this secret place, too.”

“Why?” Caolin asked. “What is the purpose of it?”

“It is… a Time Lord’s treasure house,” Kristoph answered. “Not treasure in gold and diamonds. We have bank vaults for those. But the treasures of wisdom each man in his turn has garnered. This place was to keep those treasures for posterity.”

“I wonder why your ancestor thought it necessary to do this?” Caolin mused. He, too, looked with wonder and delight at the treasure it would be impossible to put a price upon.

“Perhaps the possibility of a disaster such as the one that befell us recently,” Kristoph suggested. “If all that was left of our ancestral home was ashes something would remain of our heritage. Perhaps we were only meant to find it in the aftermath of a time of trouble like this.”

“There is sense in that,” Caolin agreed. He walked with his lordship along the shelves filled with the wisdom of Chrístõ Diam?ndh?rt. The last shelf was only half filled. Kristoph took the final volume down and notice that it was only partially completed.

“He was assassinated while still a relatively young Time Lord,” he said. “His work was far from finished in every sense of the word. I have never really known much more about him than that, though. I should be glad to spend time reading those volumes. It would be interesting to know him through his own words.”

“There is still more here, sir,” Caolin pointed out. There was a long mahogany cabinet across the width of the subterranean room. At first glance Kristoph had thought it was the end wall, but it simply divided one section from another.

The cabinet contained a treasury that was far more than just intellectual. There were candlesticks and plates, goblets and dishes, all of pure gold – Gallifreyan gold, perhaps mined from the seams beneath the de Lœngbærrow estate.

“Imagine a banquet with the table laid with these,” Caolin said. “It would be magnificent.”

“It would be a little too ostentatious even for a Lord High President’s table,” Kristoph admitted. “I wonder if that is why one of my ancestors left it here. Chrístõ Davõreen was the first of my line to be President. Perhaps he felt that he didn’t need gold platters on his table to lead our people.”

“Or perhaps Gallifrey was a more dangerous place in his day and he felt such wealth was safer hidden away.”

“That is possible, too,” Kristoph conceded. “Either way… I think they should stay here.” Caolin looked disappointed. “Imagine how much work it would be polishing all of these?” he said to him. “You surely do not want to put them to use?”

“It would be a magnificent display, sir,” the butler admitted. “It would be an honour to serve you with such a table laid.”

Kristoph laughed softly. He was also rather proud in a second hand way. Many men would see this horde of gold and think of lining their own pockets. Caolin thought only of the honour it would bring to the House of Lœngbærrow and to its servants who made each piece shine brightly.

“Well, perhaps I will let you, just once, when the house is fully restored,” he promised. “But they should certainly stay here until then.”

Beyond the cabinet where the store of gold was kept was another library of handwritten manuscripts from one of Kristoph’s illustrious ancestors. This was a much smaller collection, but a thoroughly impressive one, nonetheless.

“One of your forebears was a poet?” Caolin inquired. “I never quite expected that. I know there were military heroes and great politicians among the sons of De Lœngbærrow, but….”

“The first Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow was a military man before he was a politician. But he was a poet, too. This is an early volume which appears to be love poems to a lady called Shayna.”

Kristoph smiled as he read the first poem in the volume, written in a swirling High Gallifreyan text – the language of politics and poetry. It was a song of yearning for a woman he had seen only from across a crowded room and who had not raised her eyes in his direction. Further on in the book he had obviously been introduced formally and was pressing his suit. Then there was a period of anguish when his suit was rejected because of some misunderstanding, and before reconciliation, forgiveness, and professions of eternal love.

“He got the girl, of course. She would be my great grandmother some four times removed.”

The later poetry considered the problems of being a father to sons and daughters and the trials of a Time Lord in a time of some political upheaval. Later still the poetry was more reflective, looking back on a good, honourable and fulfilling life as he looked forward to the peace of eternity.

“Sir, there is more treasure here,” Caolin pointed out. “That is to say, the kind of treasure ordinary men recognise.”

Kristoph replaced the poetic works of his ancestor on the shelf and looked at the treasure trove beyond that even outshone the cabinet of gold dinner sets. Here were treasures that came from beyond Gallifrey. There were jewels that had been dug from the soil of other worlds, pearls gathered from oceans under different skies, gold, silver and platinum coins with alien writing upon them, alabaster jars sealed with wax that probably still contained rare perfumes and ointment and trunks full of deeply dyed luxury fabrics that would fetch a grand price in any market place in the galaxy.

“Caolin,” Kristoph said, taking a length of silver-white satin. “Give this to your lady wife to make a gown for herself, to replace those that will have been ruined by the fire.”

“Sir, that is too valuable a gift,” Caolin protested.

“Then call it payment for making these other lengths into gowns for MY wife,” Kristoph answered, taking up three more pieces of fine cloth. As for those coins…. I’m not sure what planet they were struck upon, or in what distant time, but gold, silver and platinum have a definite value. Fill that small chest there with handfuls of each and distribute them between all of the servants who lost possessions in the fire. I will arrange for them to visit the commodities bank in Athenica where they will receive credit in modern currency for them to spend as they choose.”

“Sir, that is generous to a fault,” Caolin told him. “None of us would have asked you, sir….”

“I know you wouldn’t. But you should. I am responsible for all within my household, from my own kin to the lowliest boot boy, and I must make sure you are recompensed for your losses. I meant to do it out of my own pocket, but as chance would have it, my ancestors made provision against a dark day such as this one. Come, my good man. We shall take the cloths and the coins right now, and perhaps a few trinkets to bring cheer to my wife. The rest can be sealed away again until I have thought further about it.”

Caolin carried the choice of the treasures from the room. When they emerged into the devastated footmen’s room once more Kristoph took his sonic screwdriver and placed a deadlock seal upon the already heavy slab. He trusted his butler, of course, but while the house was in such a dangerously insecure state he would take precautions against the theft of such priceless relics of his noble line.