TITLE: Jurata's Daughter
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Nyada pushed aside the empty boxes stacked at the rear of the garden shed and eased open the hidden door. Strips of moonlight from the windows illuminated rough-hewn steps descending to a cellar lined with vats of mead, each barrel topped with pear-shaped costrels for easy transport. At the far end, a second door—bolted and locked—guarded what Nyada supposed was another storeroom, most likely holding the Order's jewels.
She moved quickly, using a dipper hung from the rocky wall to fill a pouch, then plugged the top and slid the cord over her tunic. At the top of the steps, she paused, brows furrowed. Was someone singing behind the barred door? The haunting melody vanished and Nyada blew out a breath. Nerves, that's all it was. Nobody at the Order lived underground.
Outside the garden she hugged the walls that bordered a five-sided courtyard, taking care to step softly, though all the lights had dimmed save for the ever-burning candles in Mother Gintare’s office. Leaving the Order at night without permission meant a thrashing and the honey wine slung over Nyada's shoulder would no doubt add to her penance. Truth be told, she was beyond caring. If she failed tomorrow Mother’s pine switch would be the least of her worries.
Hardly daring to breathe, she crawled below the office window, bare knees scraping against the cobblestones, keeping a low profile until she reached the westward gate that led to the Baltic Sea.