Like most of Merlin’s acquaintances these days, the two had been arrested on suspicion of magic. The pair had wandered into the city sometime in the early morning, the taller one ranting about bloody welsh countryside and cellular signals, whatever those meant, while the smaller one walked with his shoulders slumped, looking a little embarassed. Their odd clothes and strange behaviour was enough to have the guards watching them like hawks, and so when the tall one had pulled out some black, glowing square out of his pocket, they’d been practically hauled off by their ears in a matter of moments, much to the tall one’s chagrin.
“Don’t talk such rot,” the tall one snarled. “Magic, really?”
“Sherlock, I don’t think you’re helping our case,” the smaller one muttered.
“Well it’s complete rubbish! Sherlock pointed his chin towards his black square. “My mobile is certainly not magic, is it, John?”
John shrugged. “You certainly do perform some impressive feats with it.”
“Now who’s being unhelpful?” Sherlock scoffed. “All magic is is science one doesn’t yet understand.”
Merlin smiled at that. He rather liked that idea, magic being science. Gaius did science. Science was well respectable. Uther, however, did not take what one would call an open attitude to such a notion, and had the pair’s exectution scheduled for the next day.
“I really think they were telling the truth,” Gaius told Merlin over dinner. “I don’t think they were using magic at all.”
Well, there was only one response to that, wasn’t there? Merlin was getting to be an old hand at breaking people out of the dungeons, anyway, so he didn’t forsee much difficulty in breaking out this pair. As it turns out, it was even less difficult than he’d imagined, because as he slinked around the corner towards the cells he ran straight into Sherlock, already out of his cell. The short one, John made as though to subdue Merlin, who hastily explained that he was not, in fact, there to re-arrest them. The three of them made their way quickly out of the castle, and slipped through back alleys and stables and secret passages until they’d put Camelot well at their backs.
“We were on a case in Wales,” John explained once the three had reached the woods. “Sherlock was investigating some ruins, and when we came out, we were here.”
“Meaning we got lost on our way back,” Sherlock muttered darkly, “and came across your backwards period civilization.”
John rolled his eyes. “Yes, Mr. Theories-to-suit-facts here refuses to believe we travelled back in time, though that is CLEARLY what’s happened.”
“It’s a completely ridiculous notion and I refuse to acknowledge your wild speculations,” Sherlock said, curt even for him.
“Well, laying aside the time-travel issue,” Merlin said, “Which ruins were you searching, and what did you do there?”
“They weren’t far from here,” John said, peering around in the dark. “Maybe a half-mile further in this direction. And we didn’t do anything, we only looked.”
“I took a staff,” Sherlock said.
John and Merlin both stopped dead and whipped around to stare. “You took a staff?” they said in incredulous unison.
Sherlock shrugged. “I didn’t think it was relevant,” he said, “Because we didn’t magically travel 1500 years back in time.”
“Where is it now?” Merlin asked.
“I left it leaning against the wall, it turned out to be unrelated to the investigation.”
Merlin rolled his eyes. “Well, let’s try putting that back then, shall we?”
“Let’s,” John said, glaring at Sherlock.
The ruins were indeed quite close, and Merlin marvelled that he hadn’t heard of them before. Sherlock lead them to the place where he’d removed the staff, a giant temple covered in carvings of what John told Merlin were ‘clocks.’
“They’re like sundials,” John said, “only they don’t need sun to work.”
“That is a gross oversimplification,” Sherlock said. The other two ignored him.
“Well then,” Merlin said, “a building covered in timepieces, that you tampered with, and then sent yourselves into the past.” He held up his hands. “Seems pretty obvious to me.”
Sherlock glared daggers at Merlin, but John grasped him by the elbow. “Better not follow us,” he said, “it might take you into the future as well. We’ll be back in a moment if it doesn’t work.”
Merlin watched the building carefully. It wasn’t long before something began to happen. The clocks carved into the walls started to glow, and the hands, carved into the stone, began to spin, slowly at first, then faster and faster and faster. Over the door, a numbered dial began to tick, one two three four, on and on in time with the spinning of the clocks. Merlin could feel the very air around him crackling with powerful magic, stronger than anything he’d ever felt in his life, and he gripped at a tree branch to brace himself against it.
Finally, moments or ages later, Merlin couldn’t be sure, the spinning finally game to an abrupt halt. 1400, the dial flickered, and then sputtered out, everything innocuous carvings once again. Cautiously, Merlin peeked into the temple, but the two were nowhere to be seen.
Merlin nervously looked back at the spot where the dial had been, then shrugged helplessly to himself. It was probably fine. He’d probably just misread it.
“I wonder what Gaius made for breakfast,” Merlin said, and made his way back to Camelot.