A/N: This is my first attempt at a fanfiction, so any and all reviews are welcome. Please drop a note and let me know if there is anything I can change or add to make this story better or run smoother.
Spoilers through Season 4
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I don't own Merlin, and I never will. Merlin is owned by BBC
Chapter 1: A New Friend
And I was having such a good day, too. Merlin thought dejectedly as he looked around at the cave where he and Arthur had been brought to. One moment, the two men were in the castle, with Merlin serving King Arthur his breakfast, and bickering like the brothers they were. The next moment, there was a flash and they found themselves sprawled across the stone floor of a large cavern. Luckily there were plenty of torches, so Merlin could still see around him.
Merlin looked to his right to see Arthur slowly sitting up, shaking his head like his ears were full of water. "Are you all right, Arthur?" Merlin asked in a low tone, hoping against hope that whatever magic had brought them here wasn't part of some nefarious plot to kill Arthur or himself.
The Once and Future King slowly settled on his knees, waiting for his balance to return before he tried to stand up. "Yeah, I think so. Where are we?" Arthur asked, running his fingers through his unkempt blond hair as he looked around the cavern.
"I'm not sure, but…"
Whatever Merlin was about to say was interrupted when there was another flash of light, and four knights of Camelot appeared out of thin air. Sirs Leon, Gwaine, Elyan, and Percival immediately reached for their swords, before realizing that it was only Arthur and Merlin.
Noticing their two companions, Elyan and Leon stepped forward to help them up. "Are you all right, sire?" Leon asked.
"Yes, thank you Leon." Arthur replied, giving Merlin a critical look over. Satisfied that he didn't seem to be injured, Arthur turned to the other knights. "Are you all well?"
A chorus of "Yes, Sire" rang through the group, followed by a hearty laugh that could only have come from a certain knight.
"Well, well, princess, what have we gotten ourselves into this time?" Gwaine laughed, stepping forward to clap Arthur on the back.
"Gwaine," Arthur nearly growled, "what have I told you about calling me that?"
"Right, sorry your Queenship." Gwaine teased, throwing a wink at Merlin, who had to stifle a laugh at the exasperated look on Arthur's face.
"Where do you think we are?" Percival asked, changing the subject.
Before anyone could answer, three more flashes of light rebounded across the dark cavern, revealing Gaius, Gwen, and Hunith.
"Mother!" Merlin exclaimed excitedly, rushing forward to grasp his mother in a large hug. Unnoticed to him, Gwen had quickly run into Arthur's arms. "What are you doing here?"
"She's here for the same reason you all are."
At the unknown voice, the entire group turned to see that a young woman had entered behind them. She had long brown hair that hung past her shoulders in little ringlets, although some of her hair had been tied back and out of her face. She was several inches shorter than Merlin, and looked to be about the age of 16 or 17. Dressed in men's clothing, she wore black trousers and dark boots, with a silvery tunic that seemed to shimmer in the torchlight. A belt hung around her waist, from which hung a simple scabbard and sword.
Completing her outfit was a dark blue cloak that hung from her shoulders. Runes were embroidered along the hems, and light danced across the surface of the fabric, giving the cloak an ethereal feel. The clothes were obviously of fairly high quality, although they looked slightly worse for wear.
But the most expressive part of the young woman was her eyes. A bright blue-green color, her eyes were full of kindness and warmth, unlike the many other sorceresses that Merlin had seen and fought. Behind that warmth, however, was the slightly haunted look of someone who had seen and experienced far too much in her young life.
"Hello, Your Majesties." The young woman said, bowing respectfully towards Arthur and Gwen.
"Are you responsible for bringing us to this place?" Arthur questioned his tone and posture the epitome of a powerful king.
A smile quirked at the corner of her mouth before she responded, "Yes, I am. My name is Ella."
Gwaine, true to form, never missed the chance to flirt with a beautiful woman. Walking forward, he grabbed her hand and gave it a small kiss. "Hello, beautiful Ella. I am…"
"Sir Gwaine, knight of Camelot, lover of ale and chaser of beautiful woman." Ella finished, a fully formed grin now covering her features.
The entire group behind him laughed as Gwaine put on a pouting expression. "It appears your reputation precedes you, Gwaine." Leon laughed.
As the laughing died down, Arthur posed another question. "You are a sorceress, are you not?"
Ella bowed her head slightly. "Indeed, I am."
Arthur immediately pulled out Excalibur, thanking every god he could think of that he had the sword with him. The knights behind him also had their hands on their swords. Merlin, however, just stared at the young woman. Was she a friend or enemy?
"There will be no need for that, King Arthur." Said Ella wryly, rolling her eyes. "I have no intention of harming you, or your friends."
"Those with magic are evil, and only seek to destroy goodness." Arthur retorted, keeping Excalibur where it was. "I have seen the evils of magic with my own eyes; my own parents were killed because of magic." Nobody noticed Merlin wince at the last statement except Gaius, who was keeping a careful eye on him.
Ella simply looked at him with a sad smile. "I know what magic has done to you, Your Majesty. And I know that you think magic is evil. But you have only seen part of the story. In fact, that is why I am here. I am here to show you the truth about magic, that it is neither good nor evil. It is the wielder who determines how it is used. Like your sword there, in the right hands, it can be used to defend; but in the hands of an evil person, the same sword can be used to destroy and bring harm. That is how it is with magic." Merlin nodded in agreement in the background while most of their group just looked incredulous. Gaius and Hunith looked worried as to where this was heading.
Arthur scoffed, but lowered the sword by a few inches. "And how exactly do you intend to do that?" He asked.
"By showing you." Ella replied simply. "Magic has saved your life, the lives of your friends, and even Camelot more times that you know. All I want to do is show you memories of your life, but from the perspective of another; your protector, Emrys."
At the mention of his Druid name, Merlin started violently, while Hunith and Gaius looked apprehensive.
Forgive me, Emrys. Ella's voice sounded suddenly in his head. But there is no other way. The future of Albion is in danger, and this is the only way to fix it.
"All I ask," Ella continued, "is that you watch, and keep an open mind. Or, at least, an open mind as possible. You will not be harmed, no matter what. This cave is outside of your time, so no time at all will pass within Camelot while you are here."
Looking pensive for a moment, Arthur looked over the other members of his group. Most looked curious and slightly apprehensive at the thought of a sorcerer within Camelot, except for Merlin. He looked like pale and was shaking slightly. He really is terrified of sorcery. Arthur thought absentmindedly. But perhaps if I can find this Emrys in Camelot, and he truly is a good sorcerer (he laughed at the thought), then maybe he would be willing to help us to fight against Morgana.
"Do you swear not to harm any of us?" Arthur asked once more.
"I swear on my life." Ella replied seriously.
"Very well then." Arthur said. "We will watch these memories."
A giant smile erupted on Ella's face at his answer. "Great!" She cheered happily. Grabbing a chain from around her neck, she pulled out a large crystal and pushed it into a nearby pedestal that had escaped everybody's notice until now. "Keep in mind, these are only memories. You will only be able to watch, not interact." Ella informed.
Once everybody had nodded their understanding, Ella pushed the crystal deeper into the pedestal as the world began to swirl around them. "Now then," She intoned, "Our story begins as a certain young man arrives in Camelot for the first time…