“Death and the Queen”
Although a race of conmen, the Mefistoles were particularly distinctive in the price they demanded for their con. In exchange for making the subject’s country or abode invisible behind a perception filter, the Mefistoles demanded the soul of the ruler’s betrothed, using their technology to create such effects as an apparent army of zombie soldiers in order to enforce their position.
The Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble became caught up in one of the Mefistoles’ scams when they targeted the country of Goritania, making a deal to keep the country behind a perception filter that would protect it from the outside world in exchange for their usual price (It was never specifically stated how often the country had renewed its arrangement, but it may be assumed that the Mefistoles came to renew their terms every generation to give the kingdom time to get a new ruler). As part of their bargain, the terms of their deal were woven into the Goritanian flag, in a complex language that even the TARDIS translation circuit couldn’t understand.
On one of his trips away from the country in 1768, Prince Rudolph swept Donna off her feet to use her as the price for the renewal of their contract with the Mefistoles after five centuries of peace, Donna running off with Rudolph after the Tenth Doctor’s constant questions became too frustrating too them as he was fixated on the fact that he had never heard of Goritania, despite its history of peace being something that he was sure would have attracted his attention. The Doctor eventually made his way to Goritania in time for Donna’s wedding, where he learned that she had taught her handmaidens shorthand and other minor but useful skills, Donna still content to go along with the wedding even if Rudolph had shown himself to be fundamentally a ‘mother’s boy’ taking all cues from his mother rather than demonstrating any of his own ideas.
Shortly after The Doctor’s arrival, Goritania found itself under attack by a mysterious army of zombies and a vast dark cloud that spoke to the people, proclaiming that it was Death and an unspecified price had to be paid. With the zombies having completely destroyed Goritania’s army, Donna’s servants, led by her chief handmaiden Hortense, were able to buy time by draping versions of the flag all around the castle, with the Mefistoles’ zombie army unable to attack the flag due to the contract woven into it. With the initial attack forced back, the Queen Mother insisted that the wedding taking place, only for Death to show up to demand Donna’s soul just as The Doctor worked out what was going on.
Although The Doctor was unable to make the manifestation of Death stand down himself – The Doctor also being put out when he determined that this wasn’t a trap for him – when Donna agreed to give herself to it, the manifestation was dispersed as Donna’s handmaidens had sown parts of the flag into the shift Donna wore under her dress for good luck on her wedding night. The remnants of the zombie army were subsequently driven back when Hortense led an army of handmaidens to attack them using spears with the royal flag wrapped around them, this attack allowing Hortense’s army to wound the zombies. With this victory, The Doctor informed Goritania that the perception filter that protected them would remain active, but it would be up to them whether or not they would maintain their isolation in the future. Recognising that Rudolph lacked the personal strength really appeal to her after everything she’d seen with The Doctor, Donna abandoned her engagement and returned to her travels, the two hopeful that the country would do well under these new circumstances.