Remonte de Lœngbærrow turned from watching his brother plot their course back to Ventura and looked at his fellow passengers in the TARDIS. Marion was chatting with Rika. They were both perfectly happy. Lily was sitting quietly with Li. They were holding hands and their conversation was a telepathic one, behind a wall of privacy nobody would have dared to break. Their body language was obvious, anyway. They were very much in love. And he thought it would have been a beautiful thing if it were not for Li’s circumstances.

And that troubled him deeply. He sighed and turned back to his brother.

“Don’t… don’t take us back to Ventura first,” he said. “Take Li back to Earth.”

“I was going to do that stop last,” Kristoph answered. “To give them more time together.” You can see…”

“I see,” Remonte said. “But I’m also aware… Li is a wanted man on Gallifrey. When we land the TARDIS at the Gallifreyan Embassy on Ventura… by rights… I ought to arrest him and take him into custody… It is my duty as an official of the Gallifreyan government.”

“Remonte…” Kristoph’s face stiffened. “You would betray me, you would hurt Lily… and Marion. You know how much they both care for him.”

“It would be my duty,” Remonte insisted. “So, I'm asking you, don't put me in that position. Go back to Earth, first.”

Kristoph looked at his brother then reached for the navigation drive. He cancelled the co-ordinate on Ventura and quickly inputted another. The TARDIS engines changed in pitch and there was an obvious difference in their momentum. Li looked around. The three women all realised something was happening. They were concerned.

“There’s nothing wrong,.” Kristoph assured them all. “Remonte has suggested to me that we take a different route home. It’s winter on all of our planets and there is no hurry to return . How about we spend a night in the Perfumed Halls of Ro-Challis before we drop Li back in a rain soaked Liverpool?”

Remonte gave him a quizzical look. That wasn't the plan at all, but it seemed to be a compromise he could live with.

Rika was thrilled by the thought of spending more time with Marion and Lily. Li certainly didn’t object.

“What exactly are the perfumed Halls of…” Marion asked. Kristoph grinned at her enigmatically. “Never mind. I’ll work it out for myself.” She went to the computer database and accessed the data it had about the place.

“It… sounds like an elaborate brothel,” she concluded after a few minutes.

“It’s not,” Kristoph assured her. “It is a place for enjoying physical pleasures, but mostly it is where people come to renew themselves and enjoy their loving relationships in a heightened atmosphere of sensuality. And that sounds like something we could all enjoy.”

Marion was not reassured. She read part of the database aloud.

“A place of licentiousness and unrestrained behaviour unbecoming of a Time Lord?”

“That database entry was written by Lord Ezxal,” Li said. “Kristoph, do you remember him when we at the Academy? He was so upright and stoic we used to say his spine could be used as a measuring stick. He wanted us all to take vows of celibacy and dedicate ourselves to contemplation and meditation.”

“The only one who did that was your brother, Laegen.”

“Even he broke his vows for the love of a good woman. – Rassilon bless her eternal soul. The world became a colder place for him afterwards. He went back to the mountain and contemplation. But for the rest of us… pretty young redheaded creatures like Lily D’Argenlunna were more attractive than spending our days watching individual blades of grass grow.”

“Anyway, Marion, my dear, there is nothing to worry abut in the Perfumed Halls. It would not be my choice for our first date when you were so unsure of yourself and a little frightened of me. But as my wife of two years now, there is surely nothing about our relationship that you’re nervous of?”

“What about Rodan?” she pointed out. But Kristoph assured her the Halls possessed and excellent crèche facility. That partially reassured her. The place could not be so bad if it catered for families.

The place where the TARDIS materialised looked, Marion thought, like the entrance to Madame Tussauds, except rather less crowded. There were pretty grottoes and tableaux depicting in a vague and abstract way the sensual pleasures to be had beyond the portal.

Marion wondered why they always said ‘portal’ in such places when what they really meant was ‘door’. She looked around and saw her companions all laughing. They had read her thoughts and quietly agreed with her.

In any case, the first thing they came to within the portal was a quiet, brightly lit room with a frosted glass ceiling. Through another ‘portal’ was the crèche, a long, clean room with toys and rest areas for small children and nursemaids who looked perfectly competent. Having seen Rodan safely looked after Marion joined Lily and Rika in the ladies preparation room as the men went a different direction. The preparation involved a rather nice bathe in warm, fragrant water and then dressing in robes of very thin silk. When they joined the men, they were in shirts and trousers of the same thin silk and looked rather sensuous already. All the clothes were in pale colours and Marion thought she had never seen Kristoph in pastel blue and pink before. Nor Remonte or Li for that matter. They all looked surprisingly different.

They went together into the Halls themselves. The database entry had explained that they were hollowed out caverns in the great mountains of Ro-Challis. Four such Halls were created initially, then a fifth one added later, along with the private rooms that led from each Hall.

“This is the oldest of the Halls,” Kristoph said as they stepped into the first great cavern and looked up in wonder at the high roof covered in glittering stalactites and then to the floor from which stalagmites rose up to meet them. Inbetween those natural growths, were carefully sculpted and arranged gardens, not of flowers, but of multicoloured crystals and semi-precious stones. They looked like flowers that had grown from the very rocks. It was a joy to look at.

And then there was the smell – the perfume. It was subtle, hanging in the air, cool and refreshing and at the same time a little intoxicating. The perfume was like nothing that had ever been bottled and sold, not even on Haollstrom, where the finest perfumes in the galaxy came from. This wasn’t merely a smell of flowers, though. It was something indefinable.

“It’s like the sea,” Marion said. “Like standing on a sea shore with the breeze in your face. And the smell of sea kelp and sand and…”

It was a little like that. It was a little like the smell of the red grass in the valleys of southern Gallifrey. It was like the night breezes on a frosty night on Ventura, Rika said.

“It’s everything. And it’s…”

Lily giggled. She clung to Li’s hand happily. “It really does make me feel…”

“Me, too,” Rika admitted with a blush. “But how can a smell do that?”

“I don’t know how they do it,” Marion laughed. “But why don’t they bottle it and sell it? It really does what all those aftershave advertisements on Earth pretend to do.”

Kristoph laughed at the idea. “It has been tried. But away from the Halls it loses its potency. There is something about the rocks, and the way the caverns are situated that produces this effect. It’s not the smell as such. It’s the way the atmosphere within the caves affect the pheromones. Scientists have tried to analyse it. But they never quite pin it down.”

“They probably get too excited about being here,” Lily said. She giggled almost like a girl. There was a flush to her face that Li didn’t need much genius to interpret.

“Wanton woman,” he told her with a smile. “We shall retire to one of the private rooms soon. But let’s walk on a bit. I believe the third hall has something very special. Shall we head that way.”

They did so, passing through the long second Hall, which was dimly lit so that the inner luminosity of the stalactites could be enjoyed to the full. From there, they could hear just what was special about the third Hall, though. The sound of crashing water was unmistakeable.

The waterfall was magnificent. It cascaded down one huge, sheer wall, the water entering through a fissure in the high roof and falling into a boiling pond at the bottom. And it, too, gave off that delicious scent. It was in the spray that refreshed their faces when they stood close.

“The water dissolves the rock as it passed through, picks up the same properties as the air,” Kristoph explained.

“Magnificent,” Remonte agreed. “But… brother of mine, I think we’re all ready to take a rest. Shall we seek a private place for a few hours?”

“Yes, I think so,” Kristoph said. He looked around. The private rooms were through portals – doors – leading from the main Hall. They were hollowed out of the rock and fitted out as luxurious bedrooms with sunken baths and other sensuous luxuries. Some were occupied, the doors locked. Other doors stood open. They sought three rooms close to each other. Then Kristoph called out in a loud whisper and told everyone to come into the closest of the rooms.

“Well... we’re not… surely…” Lily protested as he half closed the door. “These rooms are intended for one couple only.”

“No,” Kristoph answered. “We’re not. But did you see who was coming towards us?”

“I did,” Li answered with his face carefully composed.

“So did I,” Remonte admitted. “Though not until you warned me. He’s the last person we want to meet right now.”

“Who?” Marion asked.

“Lord Oakdaene , Kristoph said. And he heard Lily stifle as a gasp.

“And not with Lady Oakdaene, I suppose?” she asked. “I couldn’t imagine Minniette coming here.”

“No,” Kristoph answered as he pulled the door closed but kept his hand upon the latch. “He came out of one of the private rooms with two young women. Antollan, I think, by the sheen on their skin.”

“He’s utterly shameless. He’s the sort Lord Ezxal was warning away from here.”

“He most certainly is,” Kristoph said. “He is a disgrace to Gallifrey.”

“He is a disgrace to his family,” Remonte added. “And to think it is Li who is called the Renegade.”

“Oh!” Marion sighed. “I had forgotten. Li… I am sorry. I had completely forgotten that Lord Oakdaene is your brother.”

“You need not apologise, my dear,” Li assured her. “There isn’t much family resemblance, after all!” he laughed softly at the joke but he was the only one who did.

“This is why we shouldn’t have travelled together, I am afraid,” Remonte said. “If Lord Oakdaene had seen us in the company of a wanted man, you and I, brother, would be at his mercy. Blackmail, extortion, political favours. He would demand them in exchange for silence. Lily, too. He would not hesitate to threaten her good name. And as for Li… brothers they may be, but I would not trust Rõgæn not to betray him.”

“Stay here, everyone,” Kristoph said. “I’m going to follow him. I want to see where he goes. As lecherous as he is, I don’t think he’s here just to keep company with a couple of loose women. Rõgæn will be looking to make a profit from something. And it may be something my former colleagues at the Celestial Intervention Agency will want to know about.”

“I should do it,” Li said. “Despite being his older brother, he doesn’t know me. I haven’t set eyes on him for three regenerations. We were hardly close even before I left Gallifrey. I will find out what he is doing.”

“All right,” Kristoph decided. “Meanwhile… I’m going to go and fetch Rodan from the crèche and bring her and the TARDIS here. When Li gets back, I think we’ll leave. I don’t know about anyone else, but the pleasures of Ro-Challis have become slightly tainted.”

The two men slipped out of the door. Marion sat down on the silk hung bed. Lily and Rika came to join her. Remonte remained standing. He waited by the door.

“Kristoph is right about one thing,” Marion said. “The mood is definitely gone. Poor Li. It’s so cruel. His brother really does seem a real criminal, and yet he is the one who has the title of Lord, and is head of the family. And I know what that means to you Time Lords. It’s important.”

“Li was never close to his youngest brother,” Lily said. “He and Laegen were closer. But one brother renounced the inheritance, the other was denied it. I almost wish there wasn’t a third son. If the line had died with the two of them, it might have been better for Gallifrey, and for the honour she stands for.”

There was a familiar sound of a TARDIS materialising, and Kristoph stepped out with Rodan in his arms. He gave her into Marion’s care.

“She was asleep in the rest corner,” he said. “But she was happy enough to come with me.”

“Of course, she was,” Marion said as she hugged her foster child. She sat quietly, as they all did, waiting for Li’s return.

When he did return, his news was little, but it was interesting. Kristoph brought everyone into the TARDIS before he would hear it, though.

“You were right,” Li said. “Rõgæn met with two men by the waterfall. Something was exchanged. It might have been money. It was no legitimate transaction, anyway. But just what the business was, I could not tell. There is nothing that the Agency could make a case out of.”

“Even so, I will make sure they know he is doing shady deals. They will put a man onto him. If he is engaged in illegal transactions…” Kristoph sighed. He looked at Li. “I am sorry. This is bitter to your ears.”

“It is. But if my brother is a criminal, let him be rightly exposed as one. Gallifreyan justice demands nothing less. Gallifreyan honour would be served by his exposure.”

Kristoph nodded. Then he turned from the TARDIS console and smiled.

“It’s three hours from here to Earth. And I think we’re all tired. Rodan is asleep again already. I think we should all retire to our separate bedrooms for a while. Perhaps we can recapture a little of the mood of Ro-Challis after all?”

Lily smiled gratefully to him and reached out for Li’s hand. Remonte took Rika’s hand. Marion smiled warmly at Kristoph and stood with their sleeping child in her arms. It wasn’t quite the romantic interlude he had planned, but it would do.