Maureen O’Brien – Merlin: A Jewel Riders/Doctor Who Crossover

Summary: Maureen O’Brien plays with the idea that Merlin was the Doctor from Dr. Who all along.

Archival Note from The Jewel Riders Archive: This story is presented as it was originally published. It is presented for archival purposes and for the enjoyment of the Jewel Riders fandom. If you are the author of this story and wish to have it removed from the Jewel Riders Archive (or wish to share more!) please email us at archivist@jewelridersarchive.com. Happy Reading!


Disclaimer: Characters and situations from Princess Gwenevere & the Jewel Riders (aka Starla and the Jewel Riders) belong to….

Characters and situations from Doctor Who belong to the BBC;

Ancelyn and Bambera come from the episode “Battlefield”, btw.

And everything else belongs to me.

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PROLOGUE

 

He was old, so old.

 

He had seen a thousand worlds, stepped from universe to universe

as easily as crossing a stream. He had saved nations, mended

broken hearts, and sipped over a billion cups of tea. And he had

raised a boy to become a king. Twice, in fact. This was his

second chance. If only it didn’t go all wrong again, as it had

in this world’s parallel. If only he could remember what had

happened where and keep it straight. If only he wasn’t so tired

and old and alone.

 

And then she came to him, her eyes smiling, her brown hair brushing

his face as she bent over him. And he smiled back, and pulled her

down and kissed her.

 

But there was something wrong.

 

She would have kissed him back — or hit him, either one. But she

would never have gone still in his hands, like a rabbit hoping to

escape a fox. Never. His stomach sank, and he pulled his dry old

lips away from her. His hair was white and straight, not brown

and curly. His hands were wrinkled and achy, not strong and clever.

And that was Nimue, not….

 

“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “So sorry, child. I thought you were

someone else for a minute.”

 

She flinched back. “I…I understand, Master Merlin. Sometimes you

aren’t yourself.”

 

“Don’t call me Master!” he said irritably, and she almost smiled.

He didn’t. “I am myself,” he told her. “Just not the same self.

This body’s gotten too old, you see. I can’t go on like this; it’s

too dangerous for the kingdom. And I’ve taught you everything you

need to know.”

 

“Master…I mean, Merlin….” She reached for him, then flinched

back again. His stomach sank again. “You sound as if you’re

planning to die!”

 

“No, Nimue,” he said gently. “But I must go away. To the forest

of Broceliande. There’s a certain cave beneath a certain oak…

well, I’ll show you. There I will go and rest until I am strong

again.”

 

“And then you’ll come back?”

 

“Yes, child. But not in your lifetime.” He closed his eyes against

the warring emotions in her face. “You must guard the kingdom

now, Lady of the Lake. When the time comes, you must bring Arthur

to Avalon. His sister, the wizard Morgana, will help you; I made her

swear. But don’t trust her for anything else. And when your time

comes, and you go on to Avalon…which should be a long long time

from now…do me a favor and tell someone where I am. Otherwise, I

might just stay there forever.”

 

She laughed a little between the tears. “Anything else?”

 

“Be happy, child. And forgive me for leaving you this mess. Whatever

happens, it’s not your fault.”

 

He fell asleep then, as the very old do, and dreamed of a different

life. And a girl with brown hair.

 

 

A DIFFERENT LIFE

 

She walked under the Brigadier’s apple trees one spring, watching

him talk to the rest of her old friends from UNIT. Ian Sullivan

was still a bachelor, and still hinting his interest. She rolled

her eyes and grinned. Still calling me “old girl”, too. Benton

looked as indestructibly good-humored as ever. Mike Yates, on the

other hand, had acquired a bone-deep calm from his studies of Tibetan

Buddhism and…other things. It still seemed strange to her that

a renegade Time Lord had set up shop in the English countryside,

teaching humans how to use psychic powers. But then, her own

renegade Time Lord had come to work for UNIT, for free — which

was even stranger, in her book.

 

“Deciding what to report, ma’am?”

 

Sarah Jane turned to Brigadier Winifred Bambera and shook her head

ruefully. “I do love to watch,” she acknowledged. “But then, so do

you.”

 

The roundfaced black woman’s lips twitched.

 

“A hit, my lady!” The tall blond man holding Bambera’s hand looked

amused.

 

“She doesn’t need your help, Ancelyn,” Bambera growled. “I’m fine

when we’re exchanging war stories,” she explained. “But they’re

back on the personal stuff now. You should be there.”

 

“I was,” she said. “But it hurts sometimes. That was a different

life. I was young, then. I didn’t really mind picking up and

going all over England at a moment’s notice.”

 

“Or halfway across the cosmos, from what I hear.”

 

Sarah froze for a moment, then relaxed. “I keep forgetting that

you two know about the Doctor.”

 

“And about faring across the cosmos,” Ancelyn said gently. “Or at

least from universe to universe.”

 

“Do you miss it? Your universe, I mean?”

 

“I miss my family, lady, and my home. But for all that the Empress

Morgana is saner than she was, still I’d rather be here, with

my lady Winifred, than have the Nine Worlds and all its magic.”

 

“Organic and psychic technology,” Bambera corrected him.

 

“Call it what you will.” Ancelyn turned his unnerving blue gaze on

Sarah Jane. “But not everyone has gone on errantry with Merl…The

Doctor, I mean. Do you miss it, lady?”

 

Sarah snorted disgustedly. “Miss the dungeons? The monsters? The

murderers, thieves, dictators, mad scientists, and assorted dregs

of the galaxy? The Doctor’s quirks and secrets? The way he’d do

his best to get himself killed? The trouble he’d get us into

because he could never let a mystery alone?” Her voice softened.

“Oh, yes. More every day.”

 

 

THE LADIES OF THE LAKE

 

“This is where it happened, lady,” Ancelyn was saying. “The High

King Arthur rests in his ship beneath these waters. But despite

the legend, he will never come back.”

 

“Never say never,” Sarah Jane chided him. “Where’s your sense of

wonder? Just look at this place. Look how the reeds are blowing

in the wind. Look how the sunset is making the lake water seem to

glow. Anything could happen.”

 

Bambera stiffened. “That’s not the sunset. The lake *is* glowing!”

She stepped closer to the lakeshore, and Ancelyn followed.

 

“Oy! Get back from there!” Sarah Jane shouted, matching her movements

to her words. “And get down! If something’s going to blow, we don’t

want to go with it!”

 

The glow grew, and suddenly the waters were churning with colored

fire. Ancelyn stood watching it; Bambera unceremoniously dragged

him down beside her. Then, with a mighty surge, the colored fire

flared and broke the surface.

 

It came from a great golden jewel.

 

The jewel rose. They saw a hand, then an arm encased in armor. Then

a blue jewel, and a red. Then, with a gasp, three heads in winged

helmets appeared.

 

Then three horses’ heads.

 

Except they weren’t horses. No, not at all.

 

“Who are they, Ancelyn?” Bambera was demanding. “What kind of

ordnance can we expect?”

 

“I don’t know,” Ancelyn whispered slowly. “But I don’t think they

come from the Nine Worlds. Our unicorns look different indeed.

And on my life, I’ve never seen a zebra with a horn before.”

 

“I’ve never seen a purple unicorn,” Sarah whispered, eyes dancing.

“I never hoped to see one.

But I can tell you anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one.”

 

“Oh, that’s a great help.”

 

The three fell silent, watching and listening as the three

helmeted people and unicorns emerged from the water and

complained about the mud on the bank.

 

“Sounds like women. And they speak English,” Bambera said slowly.

 

“You understand them, too?” Sarah said under her breath. “Good.”

For some reason, she’d never had trouble making out what people

said once she started traveling with the Doctor, and they never

had trouble understanding her. “A gift for languages,” her editors

said. She suspected it really was a gift from the Doctor, but for

some reason, she rarely thought about it. And maybe that was a gift

from the Doctor too.

 

She forgot about it and just listened.

 

“I don’t understand it, Tamara,” one was saying. She sounded like

an American. “How could the Travel Trees have sent us into a lake?”

 

“I don’t know, Gwen,” another answered, low and troubled. She also

sounded American.

 

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” the third said. She sounded English.

“What worries me is that I don’t recognize this place at all. Do you?”

 

“No,” Tamara said, sounding even more troubled.

 

“Nope,” said Gwen. “And we three have been almost everywhere in

Avalon.”

 

“But Gwen,” a high sweet voice lilted, “I know this place. It’s

the Lake of the High King. Ask Fallon.”

 

“No way,” Gwen retorted. “The Lake of the High King is right by

Avebury Town and Castle Dragonden. This place is in the middle of

nowhere.”

 

“Fallon, Sunstar says this is the Lake of the High King,” Tamara

told the third. “What do you think?”

 

“Well, if I ignored the town and the castle…it does look like

the Lake of the High King. The monument to Arthur’s arrival would

be right over there.”

 

“Yes,” said a low voice. “And that’s the meadow where they hold

the Avebury Fair in the fall. Remember the apple trees there?”

 

“Moondance says that’s the meadow for Avebury Fair, and the apple

orchard. But it doesn’t look as if anyone’s tended those trees in a

long long time.”

 

Gwen looked interested. “Maybe we’ve traveled in time. Merlin said

something about that once.”

 

“They speak of Merlin,” Ancelyn whispered. “Yet the places they do

speak of are strange to me. And indeed, they do not have the look

or the speech of the folk of the Nine Worlds. Also, they pause

strangely often.”

 

Pause? Sarah Jane gave him a puzzled look. Sounded like nonstop

talking over there to her. Though how those girls made three

voices sound like five was beyond her. And why did they have to

repeat half of what they said?

 

“Some invasion force,” Bambera commented. “They sound like kids.”

 

“They’re obviously lost,” said Sarah Jane. “Look, why don’t I go

talk to them? If they try anything, you’ll be here — not that I

think they will.”

 

“What would you do if I said no?” Bambera said interestedly.

 

“Go anyway,” she answered. “I’m not with UNIT anymore.”

 

“And besides, you’re dying to find out what’s going on.”

 

Sarah grinned. “Professional nosy parker, I am.” She moved away

stealthily, then got up and walked toward the three girls and

their unicorns. She stopped at a safe distance. “Hallo! My name’s

Sarah Jane Smith. You look a bit lost.”

 

“That name sounds familiar,” a male voice said. “Now where have

I heard it before?”

 

“Look at those strange clothes she’s wearing!” another male voice

exclaimed. “Maybe we have traveled in time.”

 

Male voice?

 

“I guess we are,” Gwen said. “We’re Jewel Riders…or at least,

the set of Jewel Riders from our time. Where in Avalon are we, and

which way to New Camelot?”

 

Sarah goggled. “I’m sorry, but you must have really made a wrong

turn. Avalon is a myth, at least in this universe. Camelot is a

legend from more than a thousand years ago. This is Britain.”

 

“Britain?”

 

“Maybe she means Britannia. The Isle of Prydain, they sometimes

call it. You know — the kingdom that Merlin and Arthur and his queen

Guenevere came from.”

 

“But that would mean….”

 

“That we’re on Earth!”

 

“Imagine!” Gwen said ecstatically. “Right over *there*, my ancestor

King Arthur, and all his faithful knights, fought his last battle

against the wicked Mordred.”

 

“Yeah, well….” Fallon said dubiously, “the part I remember is that

the battle was started by a snake. Watch your feet.”

 

Tamara was busy questioning the mysterious white-haired woman in

the strange clothing. “Do you know if there has been any strange

magical activity around here? Wild jewels? Wild Magic?”

 

“There’s no such thing as magic in this postal code,” she said

bluntly. “Unless you’re using that to describe some elaborate

‘organic and psychic technology’, or the odd genetic engineering

project.”

 

Tamara just stared at her.

 

“What did she just say?” the male voice said. “And what did it mean?”

 

“It sounded like Greek,” the low voice said.

 

“It’s the Queen’s English,” Sarah Jane snapped. “And whoever you are,

it’s very rude to keep butting in with your comments when I can’t even

see you.”

 

“She can hear us!” the high sweet voice said.

 

“You can hear them?” Tamara asked excitedly. The other girls’ heads

swiveled around. They looked shocked.

 

“Yes, of course I can. I may be getting on, but there’s nothing

wrong with my hearing yet.”

 

“She didn’t mean any insult,” Fallon explained. “Is it common

among your people to hear unicorns speak?”

 

“Not likely.”

 

WILD MAGIC

 

“So there’s some sort of gate between universes down at the bottom of

the Lake of the High King,” Tamara summarized, “and for some reason we

got drawn into it while we were riding the Wild Magic.”

 

“That’s my best guess,” Sarah Jane agreed. “So the best thing for

you would be to go back through it, and then see if you can close

the gate behind you. Rips in the fabric of space and time can get

a bit messy.”

 

“Then we should get moving. Sunset’s coming soon,” said Gwen, “and I’d

rather not try this in the dark.”

 

The three girls mounted the unicorns and used the Sunstar grumbled

about wet wings. Moondance and Shadowsong said goodbye. Then Gwen

raised her round yellow jewel.

 

“Sunstone, show us all the way

Into Avalon today.

Light the rift, so we can see

Just how bad the hurt may be.”

 

A beam of golden light plunged into the dark waters of the lake, and

suddenly they were dark no more. A glowing golden whirlpool formed

out in the lake. Streamers of light shot out from it toward the shore.

That’s how far the time/space anomaly has spread, Sarah Jane realized

with shock. Very messy indeed.

 

Fallon raised a blue crescent and called upon its magic.

 

“Moonstone, blaze a path of light

Into Avalon tonight.

Keep the rift from growing more

As we leave this world and shore.”

 

And suddenly, a path of blue light blazed out toward the golden

vortex. When the two lights met, they mingled. The whirlpool turned

a beautiful verdant green. But the rest of the blue beam hung in the

air, becoming a path well fit for unicorn hooves. Fallon looked

surprised, but pleased.

 

Sunstar, I guess your wings won’t be getting wet after all, thought

Sarah.

 

And now Tamara raised her hand and her red heart-shaped jewel. She

threw back her head and spoke her part of the spell.

 

“Heartstone that I raise above,

Bring us back to those we love.

As we leave this world behind,

Heal the rift with love to bind.”

 

Red light shot out from the Heartstone and touched the whirlpool.

Suddenly the pool glowed with an unbearably pure white light. Red

light surrounded the Jewel Riders and pulled them toward the

whirlpool with all the strength of homesickness. Their steps were

light as they walked the glowing blue Moonstone path. Gwen heard

the gentle voice of her mother, Queen Anya, and saw the comforting

bulk of her tall father, King Jared. For a moment, she flashed on

the face of Drake, and she blushed almost as red as the Heartstone.

 

And then the whirlpool was before them, whiter than the jewel armor

on her back and Sunstar’s. The blue path led down into it like a

ramp.

 

“Ready, Sunstar?”

 

“Ready when you are, Gwen!”

 

“Then let’s do it.”

 

They led the way into the whirlpool of light and magic.

 

And suddenly, they were through, and a tunnel of Wild Magic

swirled around them. But this tunnel, unlike that of the travel

trees, gleamed gold with the Sunstone’s light. Glowed blue

with the Moonstone’s rays. Radiated Heartstone red, as they were

themselves inside a heart.

 

“It feels like coming home!” Sunstar shouted with joy.

 

“We are going home!” Gwen yelled back. “Where we belong!”

 

And then the tunnel ended, and the light swirled around them,

and they were…out!

 

In the middle of the Friendship Ring. Under the good old stars

of Avalon, with the lights of New Camelot shining near, and

the Crystal Palace standing tall and proud before her.

 

It stood at the heart of every Jewel Rider. It was where they all

belonged, until the Circle turned — and even then, the Ring

would remember. Gwen’s heart swelled as she watched her friends

come through the Wild Magic in their turn: Fallon, Moondance,

Tamara, Shadowsong, Archie, Sugar and Spike and Cleo. Her friends.

Her family. She had led them all back safe.

 

The jewels’ light mingled again, and the tunnel mouth turned

incredibly bright. And then the Wild Magic was gone.

 

They were home.

 

The Jewel Riders gathered in one huddled, chaotic group hug,

gleeful at the success of their spell.

 

And then a woman said, “Excuse me.”

 

They turned around. It was the white-haired woman from Britannia.

 

“It seems your ‘magic’ decided to shanghai me,” she said grimly.

“Remind me never to complain again about wanting to travel.”

 

 

AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR

 

“Oh, no!” Gwen felt conscience-stricken. She hadn’t been doing

so hot as a leader after all. “It’s my fault. When I said,

‘show us all’….”

 

“You didn’t know that would include Sarah Jane,” Fallon calmed

her. “It’s never happened that way before.”

 

“But the spell felt right,” Tamara worried. “It felt like the

rift closed, and that everything ended up where it belonged,

including us.”

 

“And it did, my pupils.”

 

“Merlin!” the girls called, relieved. He would know what to do.

 

“Merlin!” shouted Archie the owl, Merlin’s old familiar. “Oh,

thank goodness you’re here! The Wild Magic has been doing all

sorts of strange things, and we traveled all the way to Earth!”

 

“So I saw, Archimedes,” Merlin said fondly. “You have discovered

yet another property of the Wild Magic, my pupils, and another

power of your Jewels as well. I am very proud of you.”

 

“But Merlin,” Gwen pleaded, “what do we do with the woman from

Britannia? Sarah Jane Smith?”

 

And suddenly, time seemed to stand still for Merlin. His eyes fixed

on a woman with a piquant face, laughline wrinkles, and white hair

that used to be brown. Not to mention lips that incredulously formed

the word…

 

“Doctor?”

 

Time rushed back in on him as he felt his own lips pull into a

delighted grin. “My dear Sarah, noone’s called me that for a thousand

years. Merlin this and Merlin that, but never….” He strode forward

hug her and hit the borders of Avalon in time and space.

 

Which no wizard might pass without a Jewel of Power.

 

He almost pounded the wall with frustration.

 

“Doctor? What’s wrong?”

 

“His Jewel of Power got destroyed,” Fallon explained soberly. “He

can’t come into Avalon without it, so he’s stuck out in the Wild

Magic. If he makes a portal he can come give us advice, but then

he has to go away again.”

 

“But that’s horrible!” Sarah choked out. “We’ve got to get you

out of that…that prison, Doctor!”

 

“It’s not as bad as all that,” he told her. “I have a house in

a very nice neighborhood. The gliders are good friends of mine,

and the prism foxes come to visit me and tell me of their

wanderings. That’s how I heard about a dangerous time/space

anomaly. I was going to see about closing it, but it would appear

that my pupils have taken care of it for me. Although they

shouldn’t have taken you along for the ride.”

 

“We didn’t mean to,” Fallon pointed out. “She just came.”

 

“Stowed away again, eh, Sarah?”

 

“Not this time,” she objected — but she laughed. “Police

boxes are a much safer way to travel than magical jewels.”

She sighed. “I feel homesick for the TARDIS. I’ve missed

you so much.”

 

Gwen couldn’t stand it anymore. She ignored their cryptic

references and got to the good part. “You two know each other?

But how? Sarah said that her time was a thousand years or more

after Arthur ruled.”

 

“Time and space are one, Gwenevere. To travel in one is to travel

in the other. And I traveled through them for many years, with

many different friends for traveling companions. My friend Sarah

here was one of those who stayed longest with me.”

 

“Until you made me leave,” she said gently. “I know you had a

good reason. That’s why you were so distracted, and that’s why

you put me down in the wrong part of Croydon. But why?”

 

He sighed. “I made you leave because the Time Lords forbid outsiders

on Gallifrey. They would have taken all your memories away and

put you back in the moment when I left with you — which would

have wreaked havoc on the time/space continuum, given your

involvement in so many crucial historical events — or simply

imprisoned you in the Citadel for life. I couldn’t do that to

you, Sarah. And I knew you wouldn’t just stay meekly on the

TARDIS while I went around risking my neck in Gallifrey’s political

snakepit. And if I had told you all that….”

 

“I would never have left. You couldn’t have pried me out of the

TARDIS.” Her eyes turned suspiciously bright. “Oi! Don’t you

dare pull that on me again!”

 

“I won’t, Sarah Jane.” His voice was deeper than they had ever

heard it. “It’s too hard on hearts.”

 

“Hearts…” Tamara mused out loud. “That’s it! Merlin, Gwen and

Fallon asked to have ‘us’ brought to Avalon. But I asked the

Heartstone to take us to the people we love. So the magic

compromised by bringing Sarah Jane to Avalon, but as close to you

as it could.”

 

Merlin looked at Sarah Jane Smith. Sarah Jane Smith gazed back.

Everyone else watched them. There was something in the air that

made it hard to breathe.

 

“My pupils can send you back to Earth,” Merlin said quietly.

 

“And leave you here by yourself? Not likely. Besides, I’m retired.”

 

“Aren’t you married?”

 

“No. And Brendan can take care of K-9, if need be.”

 

“Did I tell you that this is my last regeneration?”

 

“No.”

 

“Did I tell you my mother was human?”

 

“No. In fact,” Sarah said, with a bit of an edge, “I seem to recall

you harping on how you weren’t human.”

 

“Ah. But I used to be afraid of that side of me. Because I knew

that humans grew old and died in a distressingly short stretch of

time.”

 

“Whereas now you’re as mortal as I am.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“But now I’m old.”

 

“Given your time’s age expectancies, you’re middle-aged. And

compared to my age….”

 

“Then all I need is a way into the Wild Magic,” Sarah Jane said

briskly.

 

“The Jewel Riders would be honored, Lady Sarah,” said Archie the

owl, bowing. Quietly he added, “I knew I’d heard your name before.

He used to call for you when he had nightmares, you know.” Then he

stepped away.

 

[Go back and fill in the ‘explanation’. Also, Bambera & Ancelyn.

Doctor needs TARDIS from Broceliande. Sarah and Jewel Riders go

back? No…Doctor traveled to Avalon using TARDIS. So. TARDIS

is at the Lady of the Lake’s place.]

 

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