In the forests of Bohemia, 1601, two men are seen riding on horseback. They discuss a party they are heading to when they hear a strange grinding noise nearby. A few seconds later they come face to face with the Thirteenth Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz. The Doctor asks where they are, having aimed for the Ninth Moon of Quezzeltrax, and is informed they are actually in Kokorin forest. The Doctor remarks she will never trust her celestial sat-nav again and the two men introduce themselves as world-famous astronomer Tycho Brahe, accompanied by Johannes Kepler. The Doctor is far more enthusiastic about Johannes' future achievements, much to Tycho's disapproval. Bluffing that her group is looking for the same party that they are going to, the Doctor says that they will tag along with the duo. On the way, the Doctor and her friends whisper about Johannes, with the Doctor explaining that he is still just Tycho's student at this point in time. They arrive at Castle Houska, which looks more like a prison, in which the new Baroness, Dagmar Ruskovitch, is practising archery. When she is informed that Galileo Galilei and John Dee will not attend she is furious as she "needed those men", while a monk called Dominik remarks that a new mind is coming which will suit their needs. The Doctor's group arrives at a huge celebration full of astronomers from around the world, and the Doctor tells her friends to mingle.
Ryan walks past two people arguing about viewpoints, while Graham finds Tycho signing autographs, and the two head off to talk. Ryan finds the Doctor, who says she does not remember this meeting from history, which may be very bad news. As Yaz chats to Johannes, Tycho tells Graham how he got into astrology, and the two end up bonding over a drink. Eventually, Ruskovitch arrives to greet the party. The Doctor asks her why everyone there can suddenly understand each other, and Ruskovitch makes her excuses and leaves. The Doctor tells Yaz that she and Ryan will go snooping. Entering the underground corridors of the castle, the Doctor and Ryan discover a hidden passage, in which they find hooded figures with sword-patterned masks. Ryan asks the Doctor what is going on when Dominik arrives. With his eyes glowing, he tells them to perish in the fires of his mind while the Doctor and Ryan scream in pain.
Graham and Tycho continue to chat as Tycho explains one of the legends of Castle Houska. Apparently, over three hundred years prior, a seemingly bottomless pit was discovered in the forest, and as rumours spread, King Ottokar II sent a prisoner into it to find out what was inside. When he arose, he had aged thirty years and had been driven mad, before immediately dying, so the pit was sealed and the castle was built on top. However, Tycho laughs the rumours off as "absurd superstitions".
As the Doctor and Ryan get attacked, the Doctor manages to use her telepathic powers to protect Ryan and turn the tide back on Dominik, eventually overthrowing him and knocking him out. However, the two notice that the rest of the mysterious figures have not moved in the slightest, and they wonder what is going on. Back in the main hall, Ruskovitch meets Johannes and invites him to see her personal collection. Yaz, attempting to keep an eye on him, tries to come along as well but is quickly shrugged off. Annoyed, she interrupts Graham and Tycho's conversation to tell them, and while Graham is concerned about Johannes' wellbeing, Tycho is most angry about not being visited by the Baroness himself, and the three decide to track them down.
Up in a tower of the castle, Ruskovitch leads Johannes to her enormous collection, full of documents long thought lost. As Graham, Yaz, and Tycho attempt to navigate the maze of corridors, a mysterious laundry woman points out the correct direction to them. They find the Baroness' study as she promises to share some inspiring new facts about the universe with Johannes, showing him a glowing orb that, when held, transforms the room into a view of the cosmos. As Graham and Yaz worry about Johannes potentially learning information from the future and accidentally changing history, Tycho barges in to interrupt. Ruskovitch finally learns that the Doctor's friends are not from 1601, and as Dominik psychically tells her where the Doctor is, she promises to kill both her and her friends, grabbing a sword and transforming into a huge centaur as she does so.
With Ruskovitch attacking, Graham and Yaz attempt to escape, only to be blocked off by the Baroness' superior speed. However, Johannes jumps in front of her sword, promising to submit to what she wants of him if she spares their lives. Transforming back into a human, she agrees and commands for Graham and Yaz to be sent to the dungeon, promptly followed by Tycho as well.
Meanwhile, Dominik sends his masked minions off to find the Doctor and Ryan, who are secretly hiding behind a nearby statue. The Doctor takes the chance to examine a large circle with a sword marking that the monks have been guarding. Putting her ear to it, she wonders why it feels warm before the symbol begins to crack and attacks her with red energy, flinging her into the air and leaving her petrified on the ground. As Ryan attempts to make her speak, she simply stares dead-eyed and mutters a string of nonsense words under her breath.
In the main hall, Ruskovitch greets the assembled astronomers and gifts them each a crystal orb, similar to the one she gave to Johannes, and they are all eagerly taken. Meanwhile, in the dungeon, Graham, Yaz, and Tycho get threatened by the dungeon keeper and, attempting to figure out an escape plan, Yaz gets out her phone. Proclaiming herself as "the dark witch Bellatrix Lestrange", she attempts to "curse" the dungeon keeper by recording him on her phone. Unsettled, he proclaims it as a trick until he sees Yaz use a filter to add a rabbit's ears and nose to him in the video, and he immediately lets them all out, terrified for his life.
As Tycho goes back for his sword, he nearly overhears Graham and Yaz discussing his and Johannes' future importance as he sees what is happening in the main hall - all of the guests' orbs glowing and connecting beams of light between their heads, freezing them in place. Ryan, meanwhile, continues to try and make the Doctor wake up as he is cornered by two of Dominik's brethren. As Graham and Yaz enter the main hall, they find all the astronomers muttering extremely complicated mathematical equations under the breath, and Tycho briefly engages in a swordfight with the guards. As he gains the upper hand, Ruskovitch places her hands on the shoulders of an equally-entranced Johannes as an enormous glowing hand bursts out of the sword mark in the tunnels, with a menacing laugh filling the castle.
Tycho continues to battle the guards with his sword while Graham and Yaz fret over the situation involving the possessed astronomers. Thinking like the Doctor, Graham realises the orbs must be controlling them, so he and Yaz set to work smashing them and freeing the astronomers. Meanwhile, in the passages below, the Doctor is still possessed, so Ryan tries to fight off the approaching Brethren. After hitting one several times, he removes its mask to see they are not only robots but solid stone ones. At that point, three guards also join in and threaten Ryan with death, which snaps the Doctor out of her trance. Stealing one sword, she cuts the rope over a nearby tapestry, uses it to cover the Brethren, and finally pushes them into the guards. The duo makes a run for it, with the Doctor admitting she did not know what happened to her.
Ruskovitch is appalled to see the psychic link between the astronomers break and proclaims it is the Doctor's doing. Tycho successfully fights off the guards as the Doctor and Ryan arrive back upstairs, everyone finally reunited. Graham and Yaz explain the problem with the astronomers and their plan before mentioning Ruskovitch being a centaur, and Dominik and the Brethren join the group. Dominik explains he created the robots from the wall of the castle and he controls them. With Ryan convincing Tycho he cannot fight them, the gang flee upstairs to Ruskovitch's study to find her and Johannes. Ruskovitch once again becomes a centaur and chases down the Doctor with murderous intent. With the Doctor planning on stopping her before she can unleash what is in the cellar, Graham, Ryan and Tycho block the door and Yaz tells Johannes to come with them.
The Doctor pushes a bookcase onto Ruskovitch, trapping her, as she cannot escape as easily in her centaur form. Ruskovitch remarks that the Doctor has doomed the planet for freeing the creature. Stunned, the Doctor realises that Ruskovitch was not trying to summon the creature underground, but keep it trapped, and she has made a fundamental mistake in stopping her. The Doctor tells Ruskovitch the creature is nothing to do with her, just as a huge, twisted glowing monstrosity resembling the Doctor breaks free of the cellar.
The Doctor and Dagmar argue in Dagmar's study, with the Doctor proclaiming she would have helped Dagmar from the beginning had she known her true nature. Dagmar and Dominik explain that they assumed the Doctor's group were their enemies and that a cult named 'The Children of Chaos' has spread across the cosmos, dedicated to the triumph of the Catastrophia - a realm of madness with no physical laws. Dagmar explains that no-one has ever entered it and lived, and one of the holes leading to it in the universe that must be kept sealed is the one rumoured to be under the castle. Dagmar and Dominik are Knights of the Solitary Sword, sworn to protect the order of the universe. Three hundred years ago, the Catastrophia's Herald was imprisoned under the castle, but after the logic web holding it began to break down, it needed to be repaired, hence leading the logic-based astronomers to do it. Johannes was originally due to lead them before the Doctor intervened.
As the laws of reality break down, the castle starts twisting and the gang encounters the Herald, now resembling the Doctor. She pleads for the Herald to return to its dimension as it is consuming the planet, but it refuses, destroys Dominik's Brethren and runs off into the night. The Doctor and Dagmar agree to hunt the Herald while Tycho asks the astronomers for help and Dominik gathers more logic orbs. In the woods, the Doctor and Dagmar find the Herald, the land around it corrupted, and Dagmar fires an arrow at it. The Doctor tells the Herald it was a bad idea to take her form and throws a logic orb at it, and although it screams, it is unharmed and goes after the Doctor and Dagmar.
In the study, Johannes prepares to sacrifice his life to contain the Herald, and Graham pleads him to stop, to find another way. Tycho agrees, knocking out Johannes, but only so he can do it instead, knowing Johannes will be a genius one day. Despite Graham's protests, Tycho grasps Johannes' logic orb and commits to the deed, seeing the universe and calling it "a fine death indeed".
The Herald is led into a circle of astronomers and is contained in another logic web, finally being locked in the pit once more, at the cost of Tycho's life. At dawn, Ryan and Yaz tell the astronomers to leave this weekend out of their diaries, and Johannes tells Graham that Tycho will get a state funeral and be remembered as a hero, to Graham's thanks. The Doctor is angry at Dagmar and Dominik, catching them leaving. With Dagmar explaining that it was essential for a man to be sacrificed, the duo enters a portal. Dagmar calls out to the Doctor that they might meet again, as the portal closes, and the Doctor says she had better hope not.
- Thirteenth Doctor
- Graham O'Brien
- Ryan Sinclair
- Yasmin Khan
- Tycho Brahe
- Johannes Kepler
- Dagmar Ruskovitch
- Mother G
- The Herald
- The Doctor probes Baroness Dagmar Ruskovitch for being an alien by claiming to have obtained a doctorate from the University of Gallifrey.
- Tycho Brahe is the court astronomer to Emperor Rudolf II.
- Brahe lost his nose in a duel with his cousin, that began from an argument over an equation.
- Johannes Kepler went on to have a satellite, a moon crater, a star system, and an ice lolly named after him.
- Kepler has a wife. They had two children who died: Heinrich and Susanna.
- Dagmar Ruskovitch practices archery.
- Galileo Galilei and John Dee refused Ruskovitch's invitation.
- The Doctor and Team TARDIS got lost on their way to the Ninth Moon of Quezzeltrax.
- Team TARDIS run into Brahe and Kepler in Kokorin Forest.
- Astronomers from Europe, Persia, India, Turkey and Nigeria attend the gathering.
- The Doctor used a celestial sat nav.
- The telescope had not been invented yet.
Cultural references from the real world
- Yaz likens the bustling entrance hall inside Castle Houska to Hogwarts. Ryan likens the dark hallways to Resident Evil.
- Ryan hopes he and the Doctor don't run into Dracula when entering the secret passage.
- Yaz claims to be the dark witch Bellatrix Lestrange. She then calls the dungeon keeper a foolish muggle.
Foods and beverages
- Tycho and Graham drink ale.
- Tycho gives out autographs at the gathering.
- Martin Geraghty was initially set to illustrate the story, but had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts.
Original print details
- (Publication with page count and closing captions)
- DWM 535 (8 pages) Next: The Pit of Hell!
- DWM 536 (6 pages) Next: Countdown to Madness!
- DWM 537 (8 pages) Next: The Face of Chaos!
- DWM 538 (8 pages) Next: Madness Reigns!
- DWM 539 (8 pages) The End
- The Third Doctor previously unearthed Tycho Brahe's body in the 24th century while searching for the Tipping Device. (PROSE: Midnight in the Café of the Black Madonna)
- Graham reminds the Doctor of their track record with "big names in history". (TV: Rosa, The Witchfinders, PROSE: Combat Magicks)
- The mysterious laundry woman who gives Graham, Yaz, and Tycho directions is Mother G. (COMIC: Mistress of Chaos)
- Commentary, Mistress of Chaos (graphic novel)