'The Shrine of Sorrows'
by Julian Richards
On the first day of Winter, three village children are chosen by the High Mother to undertake a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Sorrows. Geb, Shu and Nut embark on their quest through the forest, where they see screaming faces in the trees, children who have failed in their own pilgrimages. That night Nut dreams of a hypnotic, glowing woman in white; when she learns that Geb and Shu did not share her vision, she fears she will doomed to never leave the forest. Continuing their journey the trio meet two other-worlders, a man called the Doctor and a girl, Ace, and together they make their way through the forest. Every day the tree faces become more solid, and every night, Nut experiences the dream of the woman in white. On the third day Nut, Geb and Shu see a white wolf following them, a creature that the Doctor and Ace cannot see. On the fourth day, the children trapped in the trees reach out to the travellers, pulling themselves out of the trunks to attack them. Ace fights back, her actions encouraging Nut, Geb and Shu to join in, and together they attempt to drive off the tree monsters; then the Doctor grabs Nut’s amulet and screams, his cries driving off the tree creatures. The Doctor explains that the children’s bone amulets are actually crude telepathic inducers, which he used to convince the tree people that they are friends. On the sixth day the party reach the clearing in which lies the Shrine of Sorrows, ringed with burning torches. The children see the white wolf again, so the Doctor tells them to remove their amulets, which causes the psychic projection to vanish. The Doctor reveals that the Shrine is a prison for an alien dictator called the Lord of Sorrows, who was imprisoned thousands of years ago by the survivors of a war in which he enslaved the people of countless worlds. The Lord has been harvesting children ever since, taking their energy and imprisoning their bodies in the trees. When the woman in white emerges from the shrine, Nut realises that she is the High Mother, a puppet of the Lord of Sorrows who has been manipulating the villagers for centuries. The woman then transforms into the hideous form of the Lord, who tells Nut that her is the final mind required to free himself at long last. As the forest returns to attack them, Nut throws her amulet to the Doctor; he uses it to turn the wooden monsters against their master, driving him back inside his prison. With the Lord imprisoned again, Ace uses her Nitro-9 explosives to seal the Shrine, trapping the evil creature forever, and releasing his victims in the trees from their torment… Seven days later, the Doctor, Ace and the children arrive back at the village. The Doctor and Ace depart, leaving Nut - the new High Mother - to explain how there will be no more sorrowful pilgrimages ever again...
Stephen Critchlow (Narrator)
*Featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace
*A Big Finish Audio Production