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Without a Shadow

By SheilaWolfe

Adventure / Fantasy

Chapter 1

In a land of myth and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young man. His name…Merlin.
The forest was quiet in the early morning hour. A delicate layer of frost had frozen the world overnight, leaving a silver sheen across every fallen leaf and twig. The pale glow of the rising sun sparkled off each tiny ice crystal but they would all soon be melted away by the warming light.

From around the broad trunk of an ancient oak, Arthur Pendragon peered to see his prey. He could just make out the deer sipping peacefully from a stream, unaware of the hunter's presence. The King stepped quietly between the stiff branches and crept forward for a closer shot.

Drawing from his quiver, he nocked an arrow on his crossbow and drew the string back with both hands, stepping on the front until it locked into place. The click echoed loudly around the trees, causing Arthur to freeze when the deer looked up.

A tense moment passed before the timid creature relaxed and bent to drink again. With a silent sigh that puffed white in the frigid air, Arthur raised the weapon and took careful aim, his blue eyes locking the arrowhead just behind one shoulder. One shot to the heart and it would be over but it needed to be perfect. Not one mistake…

"Arthur! Where'd you go? Did you get it yet?" a voice called, shattering the tranquility. Startled, the King pulled the trigger with a crooked aim. The arrow flew through the air and embedded itself in the ground far from its target. Thoroughly spooked, the deer leaped across the water and disappeared into the forest.

Seconds later, a dark haired figure stumbled into the clearing and promptly tripped over a root, diving face first into the dirt. Arthur rolled his eyes irritably and stomped over to his manservant.

"You really are a bumbling idiot, you know that Merlin?" the King asked heatedly, nudging the other man's arm with his boot.

Merlin staggered back to his feet, brushing the leaves and frost from his clothes. "What? You didn't get it?" he asked, his cheeky grin the face of innocence.

"No thanks to you!" Arthur barked as he went to retrieve his grounded arrow. "I thought I told you to stay with the horses,"

"Well I couldn't let a prat like you go wandering around the forest on your own," he joked, returning the King's glower with a shrug.

"Why? Think I might actually catch something?" Merlin's answering frown made Arthur smile good-heartedly.

"Come on," he laughed, brushing a stray leaf of the servant's shoulder. "Let's head back to the castle before you scare all the animals off,"

The blond man led the way through the trees, his companion shadowing his every step as he chattered to the crisp morning air.

"I still don't see why you insist on hunting this early in the morning. I mean, I don't think half the animals are even awake yet."

"Merlin, with all the noise you make, I'd be surprise if there's anything still asleep in all of Camelot," he answered bluntly. "Besides, what's wrong with an early start on the day?"

"Nothing other than getting up before the sun," Merlin yawned. "You couldn't wait until this afternoon?"

"After my morning patrol, I have a training session with the knights and a council meeting to attend so this was the only free time I had, Merlin, but you seem dead set on ruining that for me as well. Which reminds me," Arthur stopped suddenly, turning to face his servant.

"You will need to have my nice shirt freshly washed and pressed, clean my armor and sharpen my sword." He smiled smugly as he turned around again, pausing only to add, "And because of your incompetence, you can also muck out the stables and polish my boots."

Merlin sighed and started to follow his master's shadow but hesitated when he noticed the sandy ground Arthur was walking on giving way.

"Arthur, wait!" Merlin called, but too late.

"What now?" the King demanded just as the dirt under his feet crumbled.

Instinctively, Merlin's magic kicked in. His dark blue eyes flashed a burning gold and everything around him seemed to move at half its speed. Diving forward, he managed to shove the still falling Arthur from above the sudden hole and into the safety of the solid grass.

Relief hit him seconds before gravity did. The spell shattered and time sped forward, dragging Merlin into the dark gap meant for his friend.

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Further Recommendations

littlebunnypoopoos: Omg this was so amazing! The ending was a little bad and predictable. But otherwise, I need a second book or I'll die :D The character development was excellent and the whole romance, action, and suspense was superb

CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...

ElusiveBadwolf: I loved this book so much! It's a shame that i already came to the end of this. I really enjoyed the story, and i liked it how everything became in the end. It was a great book and i can say that you are a great writer too. Keep it that way and i think you can make it in the writing business!

daneliacapote116: This was one of my favorites! When you start reading you want to continue I can't wait for the rest of the novel!! The characters where awesome! Everything was great. I encourage you to read this novel, your going to love it it and want to read it more and more !!

Laraine Smith: Your story is both sweet and beautiful! You are a true artist! Keep up the great work! I also love the picture that you chose for your book! :)

maewilde25: I am so in love with this story!!! captivated me till the very end, there wasn't a dull moment. Didn't particularly enjoy the lay out and some bits of info was missing along with how a 21 year old man amassed so much wealth that needed to be explained other than that and a few spelling errors, th...

Ayesha Shaikh: I love the twists. 😆I like how the writer describes everyone's point of view and the character development. I'm gonna read all the books by this author (current and upcoming). She's one of my favorites now. The spelling mistakes are normal no big deal, the amazing plot makes up for it. Thank you ...

Giuliana Cassetta: My face is full of tears, I never cried like now with a book or even a movie. I loved every single chapter. I truly don't know what to say, I'm out of words and my eyes hurt from crying. Such an bittersweet story, it's so wonderful. One of my favorites for sure. Keep it up!

genlynne2379: I read the other review of this book and I must say that I disagree with it wholeheartedly. I do not believe the author put the apostrophes in the names just to be unique, but because the characters are supposedly of a different race than humans. They are Anmah. They should have different names a...

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mullikin902: Do not start reading this book unless you have enough time to finish it in one sitting, because you will not be able to put it down! Superlative! Addictive! Deliciously wicked characters you can't get enough of. Impatiently waiting for the sequel!

Laraine Smith: You are a true artist! You should do this for a living! I love the imagery here! It is magical! You are magical!

Lauren Sanby: This is an excellent story. Very gripping and keeps your attention throughout. Hoping the author is writing a sequel because I'd love to read more about Rhi and Andreas and find out what else Rhi is able to do with her powers.

Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...

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