The Dragons of Japan

A spate of mysterious deaths. Sightings of a mythological creature. Something is terrorising Feudal Japan, and how is it linked to a desperate struggle for survival in a distant galaxy?

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3. The General

They marched in complete silence- an eerie quiet. The Samurai didn't so much as look at the Doctor or Clara; instead they kept face-forward, heading up the path from the beach. Trees obscured their view and with the sun setting, things were starting to get dark.

Oddly (at least, oddly to Clara), the Samurai looked more nervous of the darkness within the trees than they did their two captives. They held their hands on the hilts of their blades, as though poised for action.

"Are they always this... jumpy? And quiet?" Clara whispered to the Doctor.

"Quiet yes, if ordered to be. Incredibly disciplined lot the Samurai. Which makes their apparent fear of the trees quite strange. They're just trees after all..."

"We do not fear the trees." Barked one of the guards, making Clara flinch. His voice was stern, aggressive, as though the notion of such a fear offended him deeply.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to suggest you did." Replied the Doctor courteously. "It's just that you appear ready to draw your weapons at any moment, as though expecting an attack."

The Samurai who had spoken did not look back as they marched but spoke again. "You should know."

The Doctor wore a look of confusion. "Know what? We just got here you know. Can't say much of the welcome so far."

"We come under attack from an impossible force and two foreigners should appear at almost the same time? I do not believe in co-incidence."

"Nor do I." Replied the Doctor carefully. "What do you mean, 'impossible force'?"

"Do not act like you don't know. You will explain yourself to General Yuu soon enough- assuming we arrive before nightfall."

"What happens after nightfall?" Asked Clara, her eyes filled with concern.

"Your monsters will come."

The Samurai did not speak again. They continued to march up the path, toward a clearing.

That was when they saw it. The Doctor smiled. Clara gaped.

"Wow." Was all she could say.

Up ahead was a classic Japanese work of art. A traditional home, a huge building with a sloped red-tiled roof and wooden frame. Flags and drapes and gold dragons adorned the pillars that the building stood upon, and for Clara, it looked wonderfully romantic.

Lanterns were being lit as they approached, and the sight of a pair of gajin- foreign folk- was seeing them gain attention. Clara felt hostile eyes flicker in her direction as the Samurai marched them into the building.

The layout was something Clara had never encountered before. 'Open plan' was too poor a description to do it justice. there was no corridor leading off to other rooms- the place had partitions made of thin wood and several mats lay upon the smooth wooden floor. Small lanterns provided a gentle light, and candles also burned in corners of the room. Only a few areas were closed off- and in the centre of the room, sat a figure that seemed to scream authority.

Clad in golden armour, surrounded by aides, and sipping tea from an elegant little bowl, was the man Clara could only assume was General Yuu. He looked up as the Samurai entered, and his eyebrows arched as he saw the Doctor and Clara.

The little procession came to a stop right in front of the man, and Clara could study him in more detail. His eyes were a pale, sad blue, that looked older than the man himself. He was tall, yet not terribly so. A great many grey hairs were masking his natural black look, and he looked tired.

Sometimes, when Clara looked at the Doctor, she saw that same look in his eyes.

"Who are these gajin?" The man demanded. One of his Samurai stepped forward and went down on one knee.

"These foreigners were found upon the beach not far from here General. We bring them before you as their arrival is too much co-incidence to be believed."

General Yuu turned his eyes upon them, studying them intently. Clara smiled nervously. The Doctor...

"Hello, nice to meet you, you must be General Yuu, I'm the Doctor." He thrust out a hand, wearing his typically boyish grin. The General remained impassive and simply stared. The Doctor withdrew his hand sheepishly.

"Not a shaker then. Still..."

"You are a doctor?" The General said stiffly.

"Oh good sir, I am the Doctor." He replied with just a trace of smugness.

"Then perhaps you and your companion here..." Yuu barely even looked at Clara. "Can explain how and why my men are dying." It was more an order than request.

The Doctor exchanged a curious look with Clara. "Well, I'm not that type of doctor..."

"You are gajin! You trespass upon our lands and at the same time you arrive we come under attack! I have many questions and you will answer them."

Clare recognised another look on the Doctor's face. A look that could strike fear into the hearts of heartless creatures.

"You should know General, that I don't respond very well to threats."

"And you should not test my patience, not when the lives of my people are at stake!"

They stood there, eye to eye, neither one looking likely to budge. Until the Doctor shifted moods again, as quickly as someone could flip a coin.

"Okay then, where do you want me to start? You said your men were dying General, allow me to take a look, examine them- perhaps I can help." He waved his arms around in that enthusiastic manner of his and Clara couldn't help but smile.

General Yuu did not show any sign of being unnerved by the Doctor's erratic behaviour. Instead he shot a fierce look at one of his Samurai, who ushered the Doctor toward one of the partitions. Clare went to go with him but felt a heavy hand upon her shoulder.

"Not you. You will remain here."

"Um, no, I will go with the Doctor." She replied hotly.

"It's alright Clara, they probably want you to remain here, as a hostage in case I do anything foolish." The Doctor said. He smiled reassuringly at her. "It will be alright, I promise."

"Why does you saying that make me more nervous?" She said, with just a trace of humour.

"Enough chit-chat!" The General barked. "Come Doctor."

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