Hey, here's the next chapter, hope you enjoy.

-X-

Break In

The night was young as Shadow traveled. Only a few stars glimmered through the dark clouds. A brisk wind rattled the leaves and sent a pleasant shiver down Shadow's bare back. The world was asleep and all was quiet, except for the occasional growl. There were no predators near Shadow; in fact the noise came from Shadow's stomach. He had not eaten if over a day, and his body was protesting. Shadow halted below a large elm and quickly checked his supplies. As he had expected, he had no food. Before Shadow could reach his destination, he would need to procure some supplies. He shook his head in frustration, the delay would be short, but he did not like wasting time.

Shadow examined his map of the area and was satisfied to find a lake several miles east of him. There was bound to be a village around such a large body of water, and a village had food to steal. Folding the map again, Shadow changed course and ventured into the thick of the trees, turning virtually invisible as he weaved through the brush.

-X-

The moon had broken through the cloud barrier by the time Shadow lighted on an empty guard tower outside the small village. The village was set near the water at the base of a cliff. The homes were quaint, made of logs and thatched roofs. They were ideal for the simple folk that lived there. The local bar still had a torch sputtering by the door, inviting late night drinkers in. A garrison sat in the center of the settlement most likely housing a rudimentary militia for the villagers' protection.

The most fascinating anomaly was a mansion set on the cliff. Out of place in this rural outback, the mansion was a work of beauty. It stood three storied tall with windows all along the walls, though only a few were lit at the late hour. Large columns were spaced evenly and stretched to hold up the roof. The entire property was surrounded by a high stone wall.

Shadow nodded his approval; the mansion would be his destination. He lept down from the tower and slipped into the woods, edging the path to the mansion. He stayed hidden to avoid setting any guards on alert. Soon he pressed himself against the stone wall. On closer inspection Shadow found the motor to be weak. He dug the claws of his gauntlets into the cracks and climbed over the wall.

With a final heave Shadow pulled himself over the wall, and dropped quietly to the garden below. The bushes and trees would provide good cover. The flickering of torches informed Shadow he would need it, guards were patrolling the garden. A guard meandered around one of the large hedges and continued past where Shadow had stood moments before.

A branch dug into Shadow's side as he waited below a bush for the guard to pass. AS the light faded, Shadow crept out and began sneaking through the garden. Every so often he would have to duck beneath bushes, or leap into trees as guards came from unexpected places. The guards weren't exactly patrolling, more like walking aimlessly through the vegetation, often doubling back to places they have already been.

It took a longer time than he had expected, but soon Shadow managed to reach the main building. Ivy and vines were creeping along the walls, providing Shadow an easy latter to the roof. Quietly he crawled across the roof, taking great care to make no noise. Even the slightest sound could echo through the whole mansion and alert the owners to his presence.

Shadow moved to the north end where he had seen a balcony looking out towards the cliff. A guard was dozing in a chair as Shadow silently dropped behind him. From his belt he slipped out his dagger, and quietly slid it between the panels of the large window. He unhooked the latch and began to open one side, just enough to squeeze through.

To his chagrin, the hinges squealed as he tried to open it. The guard snorted, groaned, and sat up. A look of shock crossed his face.

"What the-" A red streak materialized across his neck before the man could yell. Shadow wiped the claws of his gauntlet off on the man's shirt, and slipped inside.

-X-

These chapters just don't end up very long. Maybe I should start combining them. Anyway, the next deals with Shadow sneaking around in the mansion. Bonus points if you can guess what mansion it is.