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Ever since we were married, I've been waiting to be Goddess to these stinking people, and you're not going to spoil it for me now!
~ Livilla, to Pepin

Livilla is the wife to the newly-declared Emperor Pepin VII and a minor antagonist in the Doctor Who Big Finish audio drama The Holy Terror. As the spouse of the rightful heir to the throne, Livilla has spent much of her time waiting on Pepin's mother, Empress Berengaria, being forced to perform increasingly torturous chores for the sadistic monarch's amusement. With Pepin's father dead and his claims of godhood invalidated, Livilla and her husband are now set to take the throne and rule over the castle as living gods - while also arranging for the prolonged execution of the previous Empress.

Unfortunately, Pepin seems determined to reveal the truth of his mortality to the entire castle, a confession that will end with both Emperor and Empress being put to death for blasphemy. Unwilling to die for a man she has never truly loved, Livilla begins plotting to betray her husband and join his successor.

She is voiced by Helen Punt.

Biography

Loveless Marriages

Little is known of Livilla's past, though it can be assumed that it followed much the same course as the previous Empresses of the castle. Ever since its creation, the castle and its inhabitants have lived according to strict traditions, many of them so thoroughly ingrained into the fabric of local reality that many of the courtiers simply cannot imagine acting against them, and most important traditions followed a very rigid cycle of events:

In this cycle, the castle was to be ruled over by an Emperor and his wife, who were both declared gods; their word was to be obeyed without question, their every wish fulfilled, no matter how depraved; the royal couple would produce a trueborn heir, kindhearted but neurotic and weak; the Empress would have an affair with a member of her husband's entourage and give birth to a bastard son - deformed, sadistic, cunning and thoroughly villainous; the trueborn heir would marry a beautiful woman who openly despised him; the heir's wife would spend much of her time as a slave to the Empress, being tortured and humiliated for the monarch's amusement. Eventually, the Emperor would die, invalidating his claims of godhood and prompting a massive purge of the castle; all depictions of the dead emperor would be destroyed, all his worshipers would be put to death, and the Empress would be declared a false goddess and imprisoned. In the wake of this upheaval, the trueborn heir would be declared the new Emperor and living god, his wife would be declared Empress and a living goddess - and for good measure, would be allowed to decide the method of her predecessor's execution; the newly-crowned Emperor's bastard brother would stage a coup with the aid of the High Priest, only to be defeated and executed. Finally, the ruling couple would settle into their new roles, becoming as corrupt and hedonistic as their predecessors - and the cycle would begin anew.

As with all wives to the royal family, Livilla was selected for her looks rather than her personality, and as per tradition, Livilla despised Pepin on sight, only barely tolerating his presence for the opportunity for power it offered her: by marrying the trueborn heir to the throne, she would one day have ultimate power over the castle's inhabitants. However, before finally ascending to the throne, she not only had to suffer through her husband's many public embarrassments, but also had to endure many long years as a handmaiden to Pepin's mother, Empress Berengaria. A bloated despot with little empathy for the suffering of others, Berengaria took great delight in seeing just how miserable she could make her newest servant without physically assaulting her.

One such torture actually witnessed involved forcing Livllia to polish the Empress's toenails on her hands and knees until she finally broke down in tears from the discomfort; worse still, Berengaria expected her toenails to be so well-polished that she could see her face reflected in them had her impressive stomach not been in the way, and promised that she would have a servant check as soon as the polishing was complete: if the servant couldn't see her face reflected in the toenails, Livilla would be flogged.

Imperial Ascension

The audio play begins with Berengaria's husband finally dying after falling asleep in the bath and drowning. Minutes later, the purge of the castle begins as planned when Guard Captain Sejeanus breaks down the door to the Empress's quarters and places her under arrest, much to her handmaiden's delight. To Livilla's continued joy, she is then officially declared the new Empress and asked to devise the method of her predecessor's execution. With executive power now firmly in her hands, she settles into Berengaria's role almost immediately, casually ordering other servants around in much the same way that the previous Empress did.

However, Pepin's coronation quickly sours Livilla's triumph: quite apart from having to put up with her husband's neurosis - not to mention unpleasant reminders of their wedding day - Pepin VII ultimately ruins the entire ceremony when he finds himself unable to pretend that the coronation has made him a god, confession his lack of divinity to the entire congregation. With Pepin's half-brother Childeric leading the rising tide of discontent, the crowd turns on him, calling for the execution of the false god and his wife unless he can prove his divinity by producing a miracle worthy of godhood. However, their lives are unexpectedly saved when the TARDIS materializes in the throne room, and the Doctor and Frobisher emerge - immediately being declared angels by the awestruck crowd.

Seizing upon an opportunity to save her own life, Livilla declares this to be the miracle Childeric wanted and insists that her husband really is a god; and though Pepin tries to confess again, court scribe Eugene Tacitus manages to put the finishing touches on the ritual by claiming that past Emperors have often experienced mental fatigue as a result of their deification, confirming Pepin VII's ascension and allowing them to retire to their quarters in peace. After almost being executed, however, Livilla has no overwhelming desire to spend another minute with her husband, and storms off.

After the ritual of the assassination attempt, Livilla reluctantly returns to Pepin's side, having noticed the crowds of worshipers already surrounding the TARDIS (or as she calls it "your blue temple). Now even more enamored with the role of goddess, she insists that Pepin accept his new role: though fully aware that her husband isn't really a god, she claims that it should be easy for him to pretend to be one if it means ensuring their mutual survival. However, Pepin can't bring himself to lie to the people any longer, and reveals that he intends to abdicate. Disgusted, Livilla abandons her marriage to the Emperor in favor of an alliance with Childeric, promising to kill Pepin when she next sees him.

Livilla then descends into the castle dungeons to interview her predecessor, offering Berengaria a painless death - or even a royal pardon - if she will claim that her children were switched at birth - thereby allowing Childeric to claim the throne. However, Berengaria is not at all impressed with her successor and the sudden break with tradition: refusing to cooperate on the grounds that her survival and Childeric's ascension to be in breach of all the castle's laws, she then sneeringly remarks that Livilla will almost certainly grow as bored with undeserved divinity as she did - and likely much sooner, given the new Empress's lack of imagination.

At this point, Livilla resorts to slapping her in the face in an attempt to force the former Empress to agree - only for Berengaria to regale her with the story of how she slowly tortured her predecessor to death over the course of several days, and how the former empress never once screamed; lambasting her successor for her failure to live up to this legacy, she orders Livilla to leave - which she does, but not before beating Berengaria almost to death with an iron bar.

Downfall

Back in the throne room, Pepin finally abdicates the throne and declares Frobisher the new living god of the castle, prompting immediate cries of "All hail the big talking bird!" across the castle. With Berengaria dying and her husband no longer able to keep her in command, Livilla is now anxious to seize power by any means available to her, and ventures deeper into the castle in search of Childeric. However, she is almost immediately captured by Anulf, Childeric's tongueless servant.

Soon after, Childeric arrives to investigate her intrusion: by this time, he has already gotten High Priest Clovis on his side, and captured Eugene and the Doctor for his own sinister purposes, and as such responds to Livilla's overtures of alliance with amused contempt. When the former Empress offers to marry him and provide him with a son of his own, claiming not to notice the bastard brother's ugliness, Childeric angrily slaps her across the face, before promptly refusing her on the ground of having little interest in her beauty. However, Livilla - by this point almost pathetically hungry for power of any kind - suggests that Childeric disfigure her for his own pleasure, on the condition that he'll allow her to claim just a tiny bit of authority. Though charmed by the offer, the bastard once again declines, only for Livilla to finally reveal her husband's abdication.

Deciding that his plans can no longer remain in the shadows, Childeric gathers his minions and prisoners in the castle catacombs, where he has secretly been creating a child-god: he had intended to keep the Child hidden until he was at least seventeen years of age, but now that Frobisher, an unknown quantity with unknown powers, has taken the throne, they will have to make do with what they have in order to dislodge the new emperor. Shortly after this explanation, Arnulf arrives with the Child in his arms; despite having been kept completely separated from human speech since birth, the Child already comprehends language perfectly, apparently knowing everything - indicating that Childeric's experiment has been a success.

However, Livilla is enraged upon seeing the Child arrive: having erroneously believed that her "marriage" with Childeric was secure and believing that she would be providing the future emperor with a son, she petulantly refuses to "play second fiddle to a precocious brat." Amused by this display of immaturity, the Child claims Livilla as his first toy with Childeric's gleeful consent: invading her mind, the god-child rifles through her thoughts for a time, inflicting pain on the fallen empress as he explores her psyche. Uncovering her less-than-secret lust for power and influence, the Child immediately finds her understanding of power limited to "baubles and trinkets and pretty jewelry, and decides to give her a true display of power by revealing her true self to her.

To that end, he begins slowly reversing her age, enjoying Livilla's fear and terror as she regresses back through her teenage years, through her childhood, and finally into infancy. Having revealed her true nature as that of a screaming baby, the Child carries on playing with Livilla for a time before finally killing her - apparently by breaking her neck.

Trivia

  • Ironically, when the imaginary nature of the castle is finally revealed, the Doctor notes that the Child could have taken the form of literally any character in the fiction including the queen-consort: in another life, Livilla could have actually been the Child.
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