The first face to greet the Doctor is not yet carved from that grand and lingering vision of Monastery stone. Rather, Roda Palfour’s comely thin face is smooth as alabaster, and hairless as a child newly born. In youthful-seeming bird foot hands uncurled and swell-knuckled and unlined, he takes the pale slightly-reddened fingers of the Time Lord in his own and steals a breath from the aether at what he finds there, looking down with blue-chipped eyes of rainy, overcast sky.
“Brother, your hands tell me things.” Roda says evenly, chirping flat and pleasing words with what might be a human tongue, were it not jewel-black, and wet-glistening and sharp like the leaves of a peppery Crassulaceae.
The Doctor sighs, allowing some air to slip passed his lips and touch the monk’s elongate, stretched-bird face.
“It –has- been a long time, hasn’t it, Roda? Is he here?” he says, chewing on a bit of thick leaf he found full of water and growing in the chalcedony sea. A dribble of liquid squirts down his chin, and is noticed without mention.
Roda’s grave-set eyes sink further, then pop out and swirl around like a puppy at play. He shakes his bone-white bird-head, his lengthy muk-a-luk beak flowing like a long and tapered cornucopia from side to side. Then he looks up again, and those blue chips settle in the layers of pale green dust coating the Doctor’s face.
“Hrm, I didn’t think so. Well, my old friend, I shan’t be staying long- just a bit of rest and then I have to see a man about a body.”