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October 31, 2011
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The Hermit was nonplussed to see him. He sat cross-legged and didn't look up from his fireplace as he spoke, "Playing hooky again, I see. What was your name again? Never mind, it's not important."

"It's not?" the Boy asked, tilting his head with curiosity.

"Names are only titles arbitrarily given to us by others," the Hermit said with a sniff. He poked at the flames with a stick before finally looking up… but at the orange sky, not at the Boy. "I can't say I blame you for skipping school on a day like this. Southern Gallifrey does not see many beautiful days this time of the year." Thick clouds drifted across the midday sun, shielding them from its heat. Today was a casual day suited for leisure, not tedious, rigorous studies.

The Boy stole a good look at the Hermit, who had just regenerated a few days ago. The old man had a fresh, youthful face that belied his hundreds of years of age. His soft, rounded features seemed like the face of a baby and an old man simultaneously. But his new appearance did not hide the pools of ancient wisdom lingering behind his eyes. The Boy, conversely, was only seventy years of age and looked it (by the standards of his species).

"Really, I climbed all this way to see you and you wish to talk about the weather?" the Boy asked crossly.

"Your impatience will be your undoing if you don't learn to master it," the Hermit stated as he pulled a pot out of the fire. Regeneration had not affected his personality much; the old man still had the same aura of serenity that commanded respect. He was in control of himself and his surroundings and he knew it. Steam arose when he carefully raised the lid and revealed several roasted fruits. "Have one."

The Boy selected a particularly plump fruit and sat down across the fire from the Hermit. He fussed with his robes to make sure they wouldn't tear or get the red earth stained into the goldenrod weave. His parents were going to find out about his delinquent antics anyway, but it would be even worse for him if ruined clothing was added to his sins. Such impractical, silly garments, robes were. He hated them.

The two ate in silence for a while, the only sound by the final dying crackles of the small fire and the occasional whisper of wind. The Boy knew why. The Time Lords labeled the Hermit an eccentric, a rogue. But the Boy knew the truth: the Hermit was truly a genius. He saw the faults in the Time Lords' society and had chosen to impose exile upon himself. He lived in squalor on Mount Cadon, under a crude shed built into the side of the mountain when he could have enjoyed a cozy house in the capital city. But here he lived free.

"I take it you want another story," the Hermit finally declared.

"I do."

"Very well. Would you like to hear more of the Fendahl?"

"No, no!" the Boy objected. He would not admit that those stories had given him nightmares, so instead he asked: "Tell me more about the Dark Times."

"The days of Rassilon and Omega?"

"And the Other," the Boy added.

"Little is known about the Other, not even his true name. But as I said… names are not important. You hail from the house of Lungbarrow, do you not?"

"Yes. Why?"

"No reason," the Hermit answered, but the Boy knew there was a reason. The Hermit never asked questions for something as banal as idle curiosity; any questions he asked were tactical. Nevertheless, the Boy did not pry. When it was relevant, the Hermit would reveal his thoughts.

"Then I will tell you about the greatest war the Time Lords have ever fought, when Rassilon was young."

"The Sontarans?"

The Hermit shook his head. "No, these beings were far more malevolent and deadly than even the Sontarans. In the vaguest dawn of our recorded times, the universe was beset by giant vampiric beings. No one knows where they came from, but they appeared in such great numbers that they swarmed the entire cosmos. Our ancestors were forced to choose between letting these creatures live or preserving the lives of every other living creature, a decision that was both easy and gravely hard."

"What do you mean?" the Boy asked.

"Because it was a matter of killing. Even if the cause is 'righteous,' one should only kill as a last resort. Remember that, boy, and pray that you are never faced with such a conundrum. The war between the Time Lords and the vampires was so long and so bloody that it left our people sickened of violence forever. But we still have the capability lurking within us." The Hermit paused, allowing his words to sink in. Another vital lesson for the Boy to absorb, hidden within the story.

The Hermit returned to his narrative. "Eventually the Time Lords prevailed, and killed every vampire… save one."

"Save one?"

"Save one – the King Vampire himself. He just vanished. Poof. To this day no one knows what happened to him. Rassilon decreed that should any Time Lord ever find the last vampire, he must do everything in his power to destroy it and prevent the swarm from rising again."

"Were they really so dangerous?"

"It is said that one alone was so powerful that he could suck the life from an entire planet."

"Really?" the Boy asked, his voice dripping with pessimism. "One could suck the life from an entire planet?"

"Hush, now," the Hermit scolded. "There are other ways of looking at life. You must keep an open mind, Boy."

"But that defies the known laws of the universe!"

"Even the Time Lords don't know everything. My boy, the moment we learn everything is the moment that all wonder is lost, and without wonder then life is not worth living."

The Boy snorted. "That's preposterous."

"Is it?" the Hermit asked. "You snuck away from school, an establishment of facts, to come hear a story from an 'eccentric' old man."

The Boy shot him a cynical frown. "And do you expect me to believe this story?"

"Believe it or not - that is your choice. Anyone can know things, my boy. There is no joy in that. Our culture worships knowledge and yet they feel little joy. A truly wise man knows to rely on the one thing greater than knowledge."

"And what's that?"

The Hermit leaned towards him. Without conscious thought, the Boy mimicked the old man's gesture. The two sat almost nose to nose over the warmth of the diminishing embers.


"Faith in what?"

"Faith in oneself. Faith that there are greater things out there just waiting for you to discover. The search for knowledge is always admirable, but you must have faith that your journey will never come to an end, even if you think it has!"

The Boy was taken aback. "What journey?"

"Every man has a journey. But you… you have the look of the wanderer in your eyes. I have not seen that in many a generation. You will not be content to stay on Gallifrey forever, will you?"

The Boy remained quiet for a while before drawing himself up and brushing the dust off his robe. The hermit was right about him, though he would not give the old man the satisfaction of knowing something the Boy had only just begun to realize for himself. "Maybe not," he said. "You will just have to wait and see, won't you?"

The Hermit laughed. His voice echoed across the jagged ledges around them, and its echoes surrounded the Boy. When his laughter subsided, the old man smiled with mirth. "That's the spirit!"
I've come to realize I'm attracted to franchises with massive mythoi (yes it's a word, I looked it up to make sure). Transformers, X-Men, and most recently Doctor Who. I've been wanting to write a Doctor Who fanfic for quite some time but I fount the task daunting. The Doctor is such a complex character and I don't want to screw it up because I have nothing but respect for the groundbreaking series both old and new.

However the "Childhood Memories" contest provided me with a wonderful means to dip my toes in the TARDIS' swimming pool. And having just watched the Fourth Doctor adventure State of decay, his reference to an old hermit who told him ghost stories intrigued me. Further poking around on the fanwiki led me to discover that this hermit was more than just a passing reference, but a character who had a major influence on him as a child. See, this is what I love about Doctor Who. There's always something new around the bend!

I'm still very much a neophyte fan, so if I got any details wrong regarding the massive continuity, any longtime fans are welcome to correct me.

A note to the judges: When the contest results are announced, would you please do me the honor of coming back here and posting your thoughts on this piece, good or bad? That way even if I don't place I'll still get something out of it - some valued critique.
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Thank you for inviting me to have a look at this. I did warn you that I wasn't familiar enough with the franchise to judge this piece's merits on such criteria as in-universe characterization or continuity; so instead, I'll attack it from the perspective of someone who has at least heard of Dr. Who and enjoys a good read.

And make no mistake: this is a good read. From subtle touches such as capitalizing each instance of the Boy and the Hermit (placing them on equal footing, as well as emphasizing their importance to the story) and the nimble side-stepping of the Doctor's true name, to the explicit moral (to have faith, and to favor firsthand discovery over rote lessons), you've provided a sense of depth to what is essentially a vignette: a day-in-the-life that assumes its true importance only in retrospect.

So where might there be potential flaws? I do have a very few nits to pick with word choice. For example, Southern Gallifrey: I'd been given to understand that Gallifrey was the name of the planet; and since we humans don't usually say things like 'Southern Earth', it comes across to my ears as a bit jarring.

Similarly, the vampires. While that may be the term used in the actual show, it comes across (in my opinion) as somewhat clichéd, and maybe even a bit trite. I'm sure the Hermit would have chosen a better descriptor, one that showcases their true threat level: voracious psychic parasites, or somesuch.

As far as grammatical or typographic issues, I'd suggest inserting a comma after 'delinquent antics anyway', and replacing the semicolon with a full colon following 'the Boy knew the truth'.

It might also be worth it for you to go through this piece and eliminate as many '-ly' adverbs as you can: for one, you're overly-fond of the word 'really'. And it's never a good idea to load up on Tom Swiftys, such as 'the Boy asked crossly', 'the Hermit finally declared' and 'gingerly picked out a ... fruit'. (I prefer to replace verb + adverb with a more specific verb, but how — or whether — you do this is of course your choice.)

In summation, was it worth my time to read this story? Yes. Did I learn something of interest about the character and the series? Again, yes. Would I read a continuation of, or a sequel to, this work? Very much so.

And that's the best endorsement I can offer.
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Queen-Obsessed Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012
This was such a good read for me. Thank you for sharing it! I wish I could provide some better critique, but I have seen very few of the old Who episodes. My realm is the newer stuff, although I am working on that. In the meantime, as I said, I really enjoyed reading this, seeing the relationship between the Boy and the Hermit, and how it might have contributed to the Boy's eventual exodus from Gallifrey.
JZLobo Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for reading! And I appreciate the fave. :)

Hey, I recommend checking your library for Who stuff. And you can find the 6th Doctor story Vengeance on Varos here.
JZLobo Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for reading! And I appreciate the fave. :)

Hey, I recommend checking your library for Who stuff. And you can find the 6th Doctor story Vengeance on Varos here.
Langue-Skulptur Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
While there have been few stories about the Doctor and his youth, the number one authority seems to be Lungbarrow. The idea that the Doctor was an innocent child influenced by a guru is definitely implied in the show (Curse of Peladon, Planet of the Spiders), but to suggest it was the main or only factor of the Doctor's reasons/causes for becoming who he is, is a bit tropish/stereotypical. Subtlety in the guru's advice would probably lessen this. Especially in seeing characterization excerpts from the Doctor's brainbuffing years in Lungbarrow (not school- he had a private education aided by Badger, iirc). The Doctor was quite a rebellious youth, not really innocent.

On the other hand, I do commend your attention to detail and determination to do the show justice. Mentioning the Other, is in particular props to you. Do you, by any chance, know who the Other is? Plus, I didn't even remember the vampire wars, so kudos! Also, I admire you for your bravery in jumping into deep Whovian mythos (I love show mythos too). Overall I found your story interesting, carefully attended to, but slightly one-dimensional.
JZLobo Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
First off, thank you much for not only reading this, but taking the time to write a thoughtful critique. I genuinely appreciate that. :)

I would disagree that I wrote the Doctor as an innocent who only rebelled because of the Hermit. After all, he skipped school all on his own. I implied that he felt uncomfortable amongst his own culture with the comment about the robes. The Hermit declared that the Boy had the look of a natural rebel in his eyes. So it wasn't just the Hermit's doing. I would never (consciously) try to apply an effect to any one cause like that. People are complicated creatures and childhoods are complex mixed bags of influence.

I know that the Other is one of the three founding members of Time Lord society and it was hinted near the end of the show's run that the Doctor might be a reincarnation of him. I haven't actually seen those episodes or read the books. I would like to, but until I can get my hands on them I've do a lot of poking around the TARDIS Files wiki.
Langue-Skulptur Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
Also, just some other things I wanted to say, I notice someone comments on your usage of 'Southern Gallifrey'. I don't think there's a problem with this. Though, iirc, the House of Lungbarrow is near Mt. Lung. And again, iirc, it becomes buried under Mt. Lung after General-Ordinal Quences(setianobaylocaturgrathadeyyilungbarrowmas) dies. Seriously- that's his name. Isn't it hilarious, yet awesome at the same time? :D

Anyways, I just want you to know that I am probably being more critical than I ought to. I always am when it comes to Doctor Who. That coupled with having read Lungbarrow and heard the Unbound alt. continuity radio drama Auld Mortality probably affects my view too.

Though alt. continuity, Auld Mortality, like Lungbarrow, is written by Marc Platt so there's a lot of stuff in there to note. Lots of cool cultural stuff, so I think you would be into that if you want to try it out. They've got this great holiday name, I can't spell it, but it looks like Septoir-milleni-jessima!
JZLobo Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
No, I hear ya. I don't think "it's fanfiction" is any excuse not to hold a story to the same high standards you would hold any other story. I really appreciate the criticism, it makes me feel more confident for my next try, whenever that will be. And I was hoping a hardcore fan would come along and set me straight on a couple things.

I really with my primary fandom, Transformers, could get its act together like Doctor Who concerning tie-in material.
Langue-Skulptur Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
You're right, you did write with him as a rebel in mind. My impression of him as an innocent was based largely off of the dialogue. It was largely the Boy asking questions and the guru supplying answers-which is natural, however I think that the Boy would also have some intelligent insight or comments to make as well. Or evidence of his own opinionated and disillusioned (cynical perhaps) views of TL society. I believe that your story had all the right foundations and just needs more development in general. I would definitely consider that a compliment (and I hope you do too, honestly).

The classic series has no depictions of the Dark Time of Gallifrey. It's mentioned in Silver Nemesis by Lady Peinforte. Rassilon is seen in The Five Doctors. You see a bit of TL society in The Deady Assassin and The Invasion of Time (both 4th Doctor stories).

But all of this mystery about the Other is largely from Lungbarrow which carries out the direction the show would've gone in had it not been cancelled in season 26. Ace would've gone to TL academy and the Doctor and his mysterious relationship with the Other would be expanded on. All of this was called the 'Cartmel Masterplan'. However, the Doctor is not a regeneration/incarnation of the Other.

The book Lungbarrow, due to contract issues, is now out of print. Unless you're willing to pay an upwards of $100 USD, you're not going to get a physical copy. I suggest just googling for the book. For entertainment purposes it's fantastic. However, lots of background knowledge about the classic series would help- Leela, K-9, Romana, Ace/Dorothy, etc. Also the first 70 pages are confusing if you don't read the books that come before Lungbarrow (as the New Adventures novel range had a sort of arc going).
JZLobo Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I see. You're right, I could have had the Boy show a bit more cynicism with his dialogue. This was my first time writing the Doctor, so hopefully I'll have him down the next time around. I'm rather intimidated by the prospect. If you try for one Doctor and get him wrong he'll sound like another Doctor. The differences are subtle.

I've seen the Five Doctors, so I know about Rassilon there. I haven't seen any of those others, but again, I'd like to.

I figure I'll expand out into the tie-in books and materials once I've seen more of the series. The books are largely apocryphal anyway, even if they have good ideas in them.
Langue-Skulptur Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
Yup. You can watch all of the classic series on Dailymotion if you need to. Some of it is on Netflix and I hear Amazon has some for online viewing if you're a member. As for the books' reliability, well... Doctor Who has no official canon (I love it) so technically it's all pretty 'in flux'. However, if we were to take the term 'canon' and replace it with 'general consensus of everyone' or 'continuity' we can all pretty much agree that the tv show itself is included. Everything else books, comics, radio dramas, etc. then becomes up to personal interpretation. Since there's no tv show excerpts of the Doctor's early years on Gallifrey, it falls to the books and radio dramas.

Sorry I keep dumping you with all this info. Your story is making me go all uber geek, what with Lungbarrow and canon -DW fans have been known to kill at the mention of that word
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