CHAPTER 5

Charlotte was a very lovely young lady; pure as the fair white rose and as mouthwatering as the water that nourishes it. Allen stood there under the shadows of the alleyway watching intensively as she passed by in the streets. Long had he waited for a chance when the townspeople were least expectant of another one of his midnight feastings so that he, without interference, could feed the hunger that grows within him.

"Sir!" An elderly man waved from across the street. If Allen wasn't mistaken, he would have thought the man were referring to him instead of the guard stopping by the alleyway riding on his sturdy white steed. Making his way across the street over towards the guard, the old man took off his hat to him "It is great to see you've returned safely, Sir Albert. I was truly beginning to worry."

"Thank you kindly, Mr. Bishop." Albert said, bowing his head in gratitude. "Though unfortunately I was unable to return with any news to share with you. The girl Megan you seek was no where to be found. However, I did manage to find something. Perhaps you'll recognize them." Dismounting his steed, Albert turned to the woven sack latched to the side of the sattel on his horse's back and recovered a pair of identical short swords.

For the moment, there is silence. Mr. Bishop stared longingly at the blades resting in the palms of Albert's hands, remembering distinctively the day they were forged three years ago back when Megan was just becoming a full-fledged blacksmith. "Yes." He said silently, taking the swords from Albert's hands. "Yes, I do recognize these. Megan had forged them about three years ago."

"Three years ago, you say? Were those her prime weapons?"

"Basically, yes."

"I see." Albert said, letting out a deep sigh as he ran his fingers through his dark hair. "Sir, I hate to say this, but I'm beginning to believe that your former apprentice Megan is gone. Whether or not she is dead, that I do not know but it has been an entire week since her disappearance. Truthfully, I no longer see the point in carrying on these-"

"Excuse me for interrupting, but if this were your daughter would you not have done the same?"

"Uh, yes sir." Albert answered with a nod of his head.

"Though Megan is not my daughter by blood, I still consider her my own, thus my point is clear, Sir Albert. Let us leave it at that."

"Yes sir."

Interesting, Allen thought. If he were not mistaken, Megan was the young girl that his former assistant Ataar had encountered whilst attempting to seize the sword wielded by Iroquois of the Pliskin's family, and she, Megan was the one who was able to see through the technology of the stealth device that Ataar had equipped himself with. How peculiar this was. The stealth device wasn't designed for the human eyes to be capable of distinguishing any type of physical form from the one equipped with it, so how was it possible for an ordinary woman such as Megan to be able to see through the technology of the device? The only logical answer that Allen could actually come up with was that perhaps Megan wasn't just an ordinary woman as he assumed her to be. Either way, he needed answers.

Later that night, Mr. Bishop returned home from a long day working at the forge and washed his dirtied hands. Firing the stove he placed a pot of water onto the flame and then went into the barrel of salted meat so that he may cook himself a hardy meal of stewed duck with wheat bread. Such a simple meal, he thought. Megan was never one to complain when it came to simple things. Instead she'd always been grateful for what she had where as many other young women in that day and age would implore banquets with roses and wine—such things that only the wealthy could provide. Glancing up at the wall where he kept an old drawing of Megan's, Mr. Bishop smiled wistfully to himself as he chopped the duck meat into chunks that were to be tossed into the pot of boiling water.

After dicing the carrots, onions, and celery and adding them to the broth of duck, Mr. Bishop set out a bowl and saucer and glass of water when suddenly he was interrupted by a knocking on the door. Who could it have been at that time of night, he wondered? Curiosity was taking over his brain. "Who is it?" Mr. Bishop called from the kitchen, making his way out into the hall and up to the front door.

"My name is Allen Fisher." The man standing outside the doorway said "I'm truly sorry to disturb you at such a late hour but please, I am without money or a place to lay my head tonight. Would you be so kind as to welcome me in for the night?"

Cautiously Mr. Bishop let the door swing open to catch a glimpse at the man standing at his doorstep. He had to of at least been in his twenties; very tall and skinny and clothed in nothing but rags. Oh was he in such poor shape, Mr. Bishop thought as he looked the man over. His dark eyes were tired with bags; his short brown hair terribly out of place, and his face was starved, revealing the bone structure in his cheeks. "What did you say your name was?" he asked "I take it you're new to town?"

"My name is Allen and yes sir, I am new here."

"And what was your last name, again?"

"Fisher."

"Allen Fisher?"

"Yes sir."

"Oh, well Mr. Fisher you may call me Mr. Bishop. I'm the blacksmith here in this town." He said, offering to shake hands with Allen. At first, Allen was hesitant about this form of greeting, but as to not be suspicious he took Mr. Bishop's hand in his own and gave him a firm wiggle. "Hey, that's quite a grip you've got there, boy."

"Thank you, sir. I am a hard worker."

"But not much of a healthy eater, are you?" Mr. Bishop said with a warm smile "Come on inside and lets fix you something to eat. You look starved." And then stepping aside, he kindly welcomed Allen into his home. As Allen was lead through the living room and down the hall which lead to the kitchen, he happened to notice all the swords, rapiers and daggers posted up on the walls. Just by glancing at them once it was quite evident that whoever had forged them was exceptionally skilled in their work.

"Tell me, Mr. Bishop," Allen asked as he stepped into the kitchen and helped himself to a seat at the table. "Did you forge all of those out there?" Allen was just inclined to ask. For a man in his mid fifties, Mr. Bishop shouldn't have been able to forge swords so profound in detail. The handcrafted hilts; razor sharp edges; finely curved blades and often the artistic designs carved into some of the blades steel was at such an advanced level that not even he, Allen in all his years had mastered yet.

"Actually, the majority of them were forged by Megan, my former apprentice." Mr. Bishop replied, cutting off two slices of bread and placing them onto saucers. "She has very amazing craftsmanship, doesn't she? That's highly unlikely for a girl her age."

"A woman forged those out there?" Allen gasped, looking back towards the hall. "I don't think I can believe that. Only someone aged could be that skilled in forging."

"I suppose I could agree, however I've watched her forge many of them myself. By the way, is stewed duck alright?"

"Yes, that'll be fine." He nodded "But may I ask about her? I'm a blacksmith myself and I'm absolutely marveled by her work. In fact, I think I would enjoy meeting her sometime soon."

"You're a blacksmith? I'm sorry but I would have never guessed." Said Mr. Bishop; a grin playing on his lips. But the grin quickly dropped from his face when Megan was brought back to mind. "Anyway, I'm sorry to say that I'm not sure you'll be able to meet her anytime soon."

"Why? Is there something wrong?"

"Honestly I wish I knew. She's been missing for days now."

"Missing you say? Oh my, did she run away?"

"Doubtful. The very day she left I had spoken with her." he said, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "I remember Megan working at the grindstone at the break of dawn sharpening her weapons, and acting as a father figure I was inclined to question her. Well, that's when she told me about a man she happened to meet while on her way home from the forge a few days ago and that he had challenged her to a duel." Lifting the lid from the boiling soup, Mr. Bishop stirred it around a bit before scooping a spoonful into the both bowls resting on the counter "Sadly, I haven't seen nor heard from her since."

Heaving a sigh, Allen set his napkin down in his lap and waited as Mr. Bishop served him the bowl of stew with a glass of cold water before taking his seat at the opposite end of the table. "How sad, though it's quite strange how a man would challenge a woman. Perhaps she was just intimidating."

"Maybe, but then again maybe not. It was possibly because she was just different from everyone else."

"Different how?"

"It was all in her eyes." heaving a sigh, Mr. Bishop leaned back in his chair and glared up at the wooden ceiling. "You see, Megan had these very exotic and beautiful eyes, yet at the same time they were so unlike anyone else's that many of the people here in town found them to be quite foreboding. But not only that, it was the fact that often times Megan knew things about people's pasts that she honestly shouldn't have, and she also knew many things that people couldn't understand or didn't know."

"Such as things that weren't passed on through history, for instance?"

"That exactly." He said, looking back down towards the table "But I'd rather not talk about her. What about you? Tell me about yourself."

"Me?" Allen questioned, cocking his left brow. Mr. Bishop had taken him by surprise, but being as he was posing as a guest in the man's home, he didn't find the question to be unnecessary. Leaning back in the chair slightly, he rest his hands behind his head and chuckled "Honestly sir, there's nothing you'd want to know about me."

"Nonsense! Certainly there's something about you that you'd like to share? Besides that, I'm a bit curious as to why you haven't touched your stew. I thought you were hungry."

"I never said I wasn't hungry. It's just that I don't like stew."

"Don't like stew?" Mr. Bishop listed his head slightly to the side "Well that's funny. I could have sworn that earlier you said-"

"I think I lied. Stew just isn't bloody enough to satisfy my needs."

"What on earth do you mean by it isn't bloody enough? Are you like some kind of animal, Allen?"

"Maybe." Allen chuckled, standing from his seat at the table. Hastily he made his way around to the other end of the table where Mr. Bishop sat and then lifted him up from his seat by the neck with his right hand.

"What're you doing?" Mr. Bishop strained, trying to pry Allen's hand from his neck. His feet were dangling from the ground and his face was reddening by the second "I demand you release me now!"

"And why would I do something so foolish?" Allen asked, flashing his fiendish fangs to Mr. Bishop as he rammed the old man's back up against the wall behind him. "First of all, Mr. Bishop I would like to thank you for your hospitality. If it weren't for your kindness, I might have never considered going after Megan myself. She's a very interesting woman, or so I hear." He winked. All Mr. Bishop could do was stare in horror as his body quivered under Allen's strangling grip on his neck. "But don't worry old man, because once I find her which I'm sure I will," He said with certainty "I'll remember to give her your regards."

A/N: Yes, a cliff hanger. What more do I need to say _? Please review