It was daylight when Chrístõ woke, though only just. The light was grey and dull and the room was shadowy still. He was lying in the bed in the guest bedroom of Li Tuo’s house. Julia was curled up in the armchair beside him, fast asleep. Bo sat the other side, wide awake, her hand over his. She had been crying, he knew. This was a difficult night for her.

“Chrístõ,” she whispered as she saw him open his eyes. “Are you all right?”

“I am… I am fine,” he answered her. “Thank you for being here beside me, faithful, precious Bo.” He kissed her gently on the cheek, but there were other things on his mind and he quickly moved on to them. “Where is my father?” he asked her.

“I am right here,” The Ambassador replied, coming forward from where he had been standing by the window.

“I dreamt….” He said. “I dreamt all the things that I had to know. All of Li Tuo’s secrets that he couldn’t tell me in life. I… Father… you and he… the CIA… You… You are the Executioner.”

“I WAS,” The Ambassador answered. “Now I am The Ambassador and I am your father.”

“You were sent to kill him… he… my mother…” He had seen clearly from Li Tuo’s perspective the mission that brought The Executioner to Liverpool, only to be distracted by love and to fail, this once, to complete his mission.

“I understand,” he said. “Let us leave it at that. But there are other matters. I must speak of them later when we are all together.”

“The memories will fade,” his father assured him. “The personal memories that you see so vividly now. But you will retain his knowledge of the universe. And… and his spirit resides within your soul now.”

“I can feel him,” Chrístõ said with a smile. “I can feel him. I can almost hear his laughter.”

“That, too, will fade. Though you will never forget receiving his soul.” The Ambassador reached to wake Julia. She was reluctant at first but forced herself awake when she saw Chrístõ sitting up in bed looking well. “I think these two tea girls should go and prepare breakfast. We will ALL sit together and over the meal some of the burning issues that are in Chrístõ’s mind can be discussed.”

Chrístõ agreed readily to that. There were so many things he had to talk about. That all of his friends had to know. He almost didn’t know where to start.


He started by taking tea and eating a traditional rice and fish meal with a special sauce that Bo and Julia prepared. His friends all ate with him. Humans and Time Lords alike. It was a solemn meal, eaten not for the joy of the food, but out of the necessity of strengthening the body with nutrients in preparation for a difficult day. When they had eaten, Chrístõ asked Bo to pour everyone a fresh cup of tea and with the hot beverage to fortify them all he began to speak.

“For all the years I have known Li Tuo there were questions I never asked him, because… because I think I dreaded to know the answers. I now know those answers. Some of you already know some of it. Sammie, Terry, you two have kept a secret from me on Li Tuo’s behalf. Because it was not wholly his secret. But I know, now, the whole truth about Li Tuo and my father, and the reasons one became an exile and the other a diplomat. And I forgive both of them and you, for keeping the truth from me for… for my own good, I suppose it was. Don’t worry, father. I have no desire to follow in your first career and be an assassin for Gallifreyan security. I would prefer any day to continue the good work you do as Ambassador. But I am glad to know the truth.”

“You were not old enough to know before,” his father told him. “You were not old enough yesterday, even. In the course of the weary night just gone you became the man capable of keeping such secrets.”

“Yes,” he said. “And secrets they shall remain except among this company. But then there is the other great mystery. Who is Li Tuo? I have sometimes speculated on that question, but I never expected the answer to be as complicated as it is.” He smiled and clasped his hands together in front of his lips, hiding the smile. Among his friends there were surprised glances and gasps as they recognised the gesture as one Li Tuo had always used when he was thinking.

“Start at the beginning,” his father suggested. “It begins with an Oldblood House with three sons.”

“Yes, it does,” Chrístõ said. “Three sons in an Oldblood House is a difficult matter, because the Right of Primogeniture means that the first born inherits absolutely everything and the younger brothers are dependent on his generosity for their livelihood. If he IS generous he may give each property and money to live well. If not he may treat them as no more than indentured servants, at his beck and call. He might even cast them out penniless and more lowly than a labouring man of the Caretaker class. It is almost impossible for a second or third son to marry. No woman of high caste would consider him a suitable husband and love matches are fraught with difficulties. In any case, the children of such a match would have no inheritance to speak of unless their uncle, the primogeniture, is prepared to make provision for them.”

He paused and looked around the table and he saw a light of understanding in the eyes of his Human friends. They understood now why it was that his own brother’s birth had been such a crisis in his life.

But this was not his story.

“In this family, something unusual happened. The primogeniture decided to renounce his title. He wanted to pursue a life of learning and contemplation. Pressed by his brothers not to condemn himself to utter penury he accepted a modest sum of money and a town house in the Capitol, but he used neither for many years as he spent his time with the brotherhood on Mount Lœng, meditating and honing his powers of concentration. After several centuries he came out of the cloisters and became a teacher at the Prydonian Academy, but even then he spent much of his spare time with the brotherhood and he was always a man apart from others.”

Chrístõ paused and looked at Maestro.

“A man apart, indeed,” he said. “A man of asceticism, of abstinence, of devotion to duty. Except for one brief time when he let his hearts be won over by a woman. For a while, he lived as other men with the rare woman who loved him for himself, not for his name. They had a daughter. And she in her time grew up and married. Shortly after the daughter married his wife died. It was an accident, and nobody was to blame. But the lonely man returned to his ascetic life, dividing his time between the nurturing of young minds at the Academy and quiet contemplation in the cloisters of Mount Lœng.”

“The daughter of this good man, I am afraid to say, was not a good woman. The evil deeds she committed with her husband caused the end of two Oldblood lines. The House of Pretarion who were murdered, and the House of Ixion which was expunged because of that terrible crime. The daughter and her husband and his brothers who helped in the deed escaped the severest punishment by becoming exiles and the House of Ixion was never spoken of again on Gallifrey except in shocked whispers and rumour. At least, until it was learnt, only recently, that Mordlock and Dannan of Ixion had a son in exile.”

All of them knew this part of the story, of course. But they had not yet put it together.

“Oh!” It was Cassie who gasped the loudest as she worked it out. “Oh, Penne…” She looked at the King-Emperor of Adano Ambrado and realised for the first time that the seating around the table was not random. She saw the Time Lord called Maestro who was known already to Chrístõ and his father put his hand over Penne’s.

“I thought until yesterday that I had no living relatives,” Penne said. “Until Li Tuo confessed to me that he was my great-uncle and… and this man is my grandfather.”

“You are Master Li’s brother?” Bo looked at the Time Lord and tried to see some resemblance between them.

“Li Tuo and I have both regenerated. He more than I. My life has always been simple and uncomplicated and I have only had to change my body twice through old age.”

“I think I understand,” Bo answered. “But…” She bowed her head in reverence to the older brother of the man she had looked upon as a father.

“My second brother was the opposite of me,” Maestro said. “While I sought peace, he sought war. He was a warrior for our people. I think you all know the story in its barest details. He was an assassin, yes, doing what he believed was necessary for the good of Gallifrey until disillusion caused him to renounce that work and renounce Gallifrey itself and become a Renegade.”

Maestro saw Chrístõ shudder at the use of the word.

“Yes, Renegade is what he was called by all but two Time Lords. I never used that word. Nor did your father who was his closest friend. Even when they sent him to hunt down his friend he didn’t use that vile word against him.”

“I never used it, either,” Chrístõ said. “Li Tuo used it often enough about himself. But he also…” He swallowed hard before he spoke again. “He often said that I might be a Renegade, too. That I had a touch of it in me.”

“And could he not be right?” his father asked. “You are such a hothead at times. I always wondered how you came first in Emotional Detachment.” The old man paused and looked at him. “Yes, my boy. It is in you.”

“Never,” he said, and tears pricked his eyes as a raw wound was opened in his soul. “To betray our world…to be cast out and banished from Gallifrey… I would die first.”

“Chrístõ…” his father’s voice had an almost amused edge. “Only MY son could make professions of loyalty to Gallifrey with Human tears in his eyes. Do you know how ironic that is?”

“Yes, I do.” He brushed the tears away and smiled weakly. “But if my eyes are Human, my hearts are Gallifreyan. If anyone doubts me, let them say so to my face. And I will prove them false.”

“Chrístõ, my boy, it was not a criticism. You’ve spent a lot of time among Humans. You seem more like them every time we talk. But it is something that warms me. Because you grow so much like your mother. The Academy has not stamped it out of you as I always feared it would. So stand tall, and never be ashamed of those Human tears.” His father paused. “Renegade is a vile title. But I wonder if it might be worn with pride, too. Theta Sigma was the title given to you by those who wished to shame you. But you turned it into a badge of honour. Perhaps you will do the same for Renegade.”

“I will never betray Gallifrey,” Chrístõ repeated. But his father’s words went home with him.

“There is more, isn’t there,” his father added. “So far it is not so terrible. Penne has discovered that the old man he respected was his blood relative and last night they had time enough to recognise each other as such before the end. And he knows now that he has a grandfather and he has all the time in the universe to renew that relationship. But there is a bitter pill, isn’t there, Chrístõ. You know it now. It is the part you don’t wish to talk about. But the time for secrets is over. Let us have this out in the open once and for all.” The Ambassador looked to Sammie. “Young Earth Warrior, you have lived in Li Tuo’s house for many months. When I tell you to bring the thing that is broken I think you know what I mean and where it is?”

“Yes, sir.” Sammie rose to his feet and snapped to attention in military style before going to the dresser in the corner of the room. There was a long, slender box of black and red lacquered parquetry there. He brought the box reverently and with a nod to The Ambassador he placed it in front of Chrístõ. He opened it and took out two halves of a sword.

“Every Oldblood House has a family sword. It is usually held by the patriarch and passed down to the primogeniture when he comes of age. I have seen ours maybe four times in my lifetime. When I inherit it, I don’t suppose I shall see it very many more times. If I dedicate myself to diplomacy I should have little reason to carry a sword.” Chrístõ held the two pieces of this sword. “It bears the crest of the unfortunate House with the three sons. When the eldest renounced his primogeniture it came to the second son. It was broken the day he was denounced as a Renegade. It was never given to the youngest son even though he inherited absolutely once his shamed and exiled brother’s name was expunged from the family line. And for my part, I am glad of that, because the family sword is a thing of honour. And even broken in Li Tuo’s possession it is better than whole in the possession of that third brother or his son.”

The words “Who is…” were on the lips of almost everyone around the table. But it was Penne who took the two pieces of the sword from Chrístõ and examined them closer.

“This family crest,” he said with a catch in his voice. “An Oak tree?”

“The house of Oakdaene,” Chrístõ said. The youngest brother, your other uncle, Penne, was the patriarch of the House of Oakdaene. He is the father of Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene – known to us as Epsilon.”

“No!” Cassie squealed in shock. “Oh no, Chrístõ. That can’t be true.”

“That was my feeling, too,” he said with a wry smile that, again, they all thought reminiscent of the old man whose body lay in the master bedroom still. “And I know it would have been easy to keep that from you all. I would have spared Penne the grief and shock he is under now. But my father is right. It is time for all to be laid bare. No more secrets. Yes, Li Tuo, who we all loved dearly was not only uncle to Penne, who we also love dearly, but to Epsilon, who is the embodiment of all we hate.”

“Epsilon tried to murder Penne not long ago,” Terry said.

“He tried to murder ME,” Chrístõ reminded him. “His cousin by marriage with whom he has other disputes. It is only a sad irony that he came close to killing his closest blood relative instead.”

“When I was on Gallifrey,” Penne said in a hoarse voice. “When my father’s history was laid bare to all, I asked several people who should know who my mother was, what her name was before she married. But because the records were expunged nobody could say. Even those who are old enough to remember were not able to say. An expunged name is a forgotten name. It cannot be spoken aloud. I had hoped that somebody could tell me that she came from a good family, that I had some forebears I could be proud of.”

“You do, Penne,” The Ambassador assured him. “Your grandfather is a man of great repute. So was his father before him. Li Tuo was a great, good man who was wronged by our people. I hope you will, as Chrístõ does, always remember him with pride and with love. Only one branch of the family went to the bad. Rõgæn Koschei senior, whose nefarious business interests led him to an untimely death at the hands of an equally nefarious rival.” The Ambassador smiled grimly. “It is NOT true that the Celestial Intervention Agency had him killed. And it is absolutely NOT true that the notorious Executioner carried out the ‘hit’. The Executioner had put up his sword many years before.” He shook his head before continuing. “His son seems hell bent on expanding his father’s list of crimes exponentially. It may well be that the House of Oakdaene will fall, too, before long. But you have nothing to be ashamed of, Penne Dúre. And nor do you, Maestro. Let you both be assured of that.”

“My goodness,” Natalie said as a long silence followed his words. “If I read such a tale in a book I would think it was fiction.”

“So would I,” The Ambassador agreed. “Sad to say, such complexities are common among the Oldblood Houses. We let too much bitterness fester and too many feuds brew.” He turned and looked at the second youngest of the company, after the baby in Cassie’s arms. “Julia, my dear, I hope this sorry tale does not put you off becoming a Lady of the House of Lœngbærrow in the fullness of time.”

“I love Chrístõ,” she said. “I don’t care about all of those things.”

“There is one more secret,” Cassie said. “May we know. Li Tuo… and Maestro… what are their real names then?”

“I think I would be glad not to reveal that secret,” Bo said. “Master Li… will always be Mai Li Tuo in my memory. I don’t need to know him by any other name.”

“That is true,” Cassie conceded. She looked at Chrístõ. “You know, don’t you?” she said.

“I know everything about him,” he told her. “His spirit is within me. His knowledge. I am the repository of his soul through the Rite of Mori.”

“That’s kind of a creepy idea,” Terry said, speaking for all his Human friends. “But if you’re ok with it, we can live with it, too.”

“I am,” Chrístõ said. He smiled gently. “He will never really be dead so long as I am alive,” he added. “We need not be sad.” He put the broken sword back into the box and gave it to Sammie to return it to the place where it rested. “We shall not be sad today as we do our duty for the old man we all loved in our different ways.”

“Speaking of duty,” The Ambassador said. “You and I have one that must be done first. You know what I speak of.”

“Yes.” Chrístõ rose with his father and they went to the bedroom. Li Tuo’s body lay there in dignified repose. But under the old man’s own instructions they had to disturb that dignity temporarily.

“We shall do it in my TARDIS,” The Ambassador said. “Wait and I will bring it to the room.”

Chrístõ sat by the bed and let his thoughts wander. Li Tuo’s memories were still strong in him yet. Of course they WOULD fade. And some of them were so raw and painful that it would be a relief when they did. But while they were there in his mind he found some of the happier memories, of when Li Tuo and his father, and the man he knew as Maestro, and even their other brother, were young men, younger than he was now, and they shared the trials of youth together. He smiled at the memory of Li Tuo and his father on the mountain, and of his grandmother nursing Li Tuo back to health. His own memories of her were happy ones, too. He remembered his grandmother Aineytta fondly.

“Good memories, Chrístõ,” his father said. He looked around in surprise. He had hardly even heard his father’s TARDIS materialise in the room, disguised as an extra wardrobe. “Come, now.”

The Ambassador lifted his friend’s body in his arms. He was dead weight and rigor was already set in. But it was a duty he gladly did. He carried him to the medical room and he and his son stripped his clothes from him and laid him on the operating table.

“You are the one with the medical training,” The Ambassador told his son. And Chrístõ nodded and took up the sharp surgical knives. It was a macabre thing they were doing, but it was Li Tuo’s own request.

“One heart to be carried back to Gallifrey,” Chrístõ said as he cut into the flesh. “You will take it?”

“I will,” The Ambassador promised. “The other to be taken to the monastery of Shongshan to rest among the monks whose culture he adopted as his own. You will do that duty?”

“I will,” Chrístõ said. He completed the work and the two hearts were placed in caskets and sealed. He sutured the wound expertly and they dressed him again. Nobody would know the truth.

Another truth had to be covered up. By English law a death certificate had to be signed by a doctor. But no Human doctor could see Li Tuo’s body.

“It is a pity that his life has to be closed with a forgery,” Chrístõ said as he laid Li Tuo’s body out on the bed again and his father gave the certificate of death to Bo, his heir according to the Will and Testament he had lodged with his solicitor. The disposal of his estate at least would be done the Human way. There was no complication there. So would his funeral now that the Gallifreyan formalities were done.

Chinese New Years day was traditionally a day for visiting neighbours. This New Years Day the House of Mai Li Tuo was open to those neighbours who wished to pay their respects. Bo and Julia made tea many times in the course of the day for the many friends the old man had among his adopted people. They all said kind things about him. They all mourned his passing in the appropriate way.

The next morning Li Tuo’s body was placed into an ordinary Human coffin and a car arrived to take him to the crematorium. His ‘family’ travelled in two further cars, and they were followed by almost every one of his neighbours. A simple ceremony took place before his body was cremated. Chrístõ felt it deeply but he kept his promise. He shed no tears.

It was a few days later, after his will had been read, and Bo and Sammie were legally the owners of the little herbalist shop and everything in it, apart from a few gifts to be given to friends and a sum of money left to Lily Mae and Chen, that Chrístõ performed his last act for his old friend.

Only Bo came with him to the garden, carrying the casket with Li Tuo’s ashes in it. They crossed the ornamental bridge over the lily pond and Chrístõ unlocked the concealed door into the little Buddha shrine. They stepped together into Li Tuo’s TARDIS, leaving the door wide open.

It was silent. As it had been for many years. Chrístõ took the casket and placed it on top of the stilled time rotor in the middle of the console and then he pressed a button. Bo watched as the time rotor descended into the console, taking the casket with it. Then he took her hand and they walked through the TARDIS to the Cloister Room where the Eye of Harmony, the heart of Li Tuo’s TARDIS, was kept. Bo noted without surprise that this Cloister Room had a Chinese theme. The well cover was shaped like a golden pagoda. Chrístõ opened the Eye cover and then he turned around and they walked back to the console room. Without a word he pressed several more buttons on the console and then he took Bo’s hand again and they stepped outside. He stood with her on the opposite side of the bridge, his arm around her shoulders. They watched and listened and just when Chrístõ was wondering if he had done it right there was a whistling sound and then a bright light filled the inside of the TARDIS before it emerged, like a meteor in reverse, shooting up into the sky.

“The Eye of Harmony jettisoned,” Chrístõ said. “It had to be done. This TARDIS would be a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. The well cover will seal itself with the last vestiges of energy. It is a dead TARDIS now. A pretty ornament in your garden. In time, maybe even you will forget what it is.” He closed the door and locked it. He detached one key of the pair in his hand and gave one to Bo. “If you SHOULD feel the need to go inside, it is your right. But if not, put the key somewhere safe and don’t worry about it.”

That left one more duty. He talked to his friends about it and it was agreed that Julia and Natalie would stay in Liverpool with Terry and Cassie while Bo came with Chrístõ to fulfil one half of Li Tuo’s last wish, to have his heart reside in the Forest of Stupas at the Shaolin monastery at Songshan.