The cellar door was open. Eileen hadn't heard it open, probably because she had oiled the hinge only last week. But the door was open, and she spotted it on her way back from the privy. It lay open like a dark maw in the otherwise smooth, moon-silvered grass of their back lawn.
It was late spring and the night was balmy and still. A light shiver ran through her anyway. There was nothing in the cellar but what was left over from winter and supplies for the next big growing season. Nothing to worry about, nothing to rush over. Pints of honey and dried peaches, a few elderly crates of potatoes. There were also barrels of bee's wax and neatly labeled, carefully sealed boxes of seeds.
There was also a short sword. Eileen crept towards the opening in the earth, and then down the first few steps with a trained solder's quiet footfalls. She could hear the faint clink of broken pottery and wet, smacking noises. Raiding the larders, then. In the dark, she felt along the ceiling found the scabbard wrapped in oiled cloth, and pulled it out of the tiny cavity it was mounted in. She flung the wrapping out the door onto the grass and considered going back and letting her Uncle Conary know what was going on.
But at the same time, she could handle herself and hadn't had a challenge in months. With another little shiver, this one almost in anticipation, she crept towards the soft noises below.