Culbano, one of the People of the Trees, is tending the shrine of his people's Great Ones. He is shot and killed by Zusala, who steals the three idols. As she climbs down from the tree, she drops one and is unable to retrieve it. She hopes that Aulian Thorolis, for whom she stole the idols, will accept just the two.
In the TARDIS, the Doctor receives a psychic message from the People, asking for his help. He helped them once, long ago in his first incarnation. He saved the People from the other natives of the planet, the Dascarians, who think the People are ignorant savages.
Aulian Thorolis, whose people once owned the land occupied by the People, and whose great-grandfather sold the land to the Doctor, has challenged the Doctor's ownership of the land as there is no way he could still be alive. She asks for a verevan test, which will determine who has the most love, or verevan, for the piece of land in question. During the procedure, the Doctor shows up, convinces the officials that he is the descendant of the original Doctor, and passes the test, retaining ownership of the land.
The Doctor and Leela visit the people, who are convinced he is the Doctor when he mentions the names of those whom he had met when he last visited them. They explain to him the theft of their gods and tell him that some of their people are now catatonic due to the absence of two of the gods.
Meanwhile, Zusala, afraid of going to Aulian with only two of the idols, has been attempting to sell them elsewhere. She has no success because potential buyers are scared of the idols. She has no choice but to go to Aulian. Aulian takes the two idols and kills Zusala for her failure.
Aulian, aware that the Doctor's verevan is based on his desire to protect the People, wants the last idol so that all the People will die. Then she will call for a new test and reclaim her family land.
When Leela and Woltias follow Zusala's tracks to Aulian's house, Aulian kills Woltias and captures Leela. She sends a message to the Doctor asking for a trade: Leela for the third idol. The leader of the People, Caramir, allows him to take the third idol, as having only one of them is just as bad as having none of them.
Leela is held behind a force field. When the Doctor arrives, she pretends that she will let the Doctor and Leela go, but he is not fooled. She gathers the three idols together, but their psychic force affects her. She tries to shoot the Doctor, but the beam is reflected off the force field and kills her.
The Doctor returns the idols to the People, and he and Leela take their leave.
- K9 is on an errand in the TARDIS library.
- The Doctor mentions ancestors of the People, such as Soldea, Eliash, Yidor, Faron, Wellamora and Palamon.
- The People call the Dascarians urbargalim.
- The stories in Decalog 2 have a common theme of homes owned or acquired by the Doctor. The home in this story is the land in which the People of the Trees live.
- Leela recalls being temporarily blinded by the destruction of the Rutan Battlefleet over Fang Rock in the 1900s. (TV: Horror of Fang Rock)