Two days before Garan's wedding, Fire received a surprise.
A healing Nash stood in the courtyard, waiting for the last of the guests to arrive. Roen and Brocker waited to his left, Garan and Brigan to his right. Fire stood on a balcony overlooking the courtyard, curious to see Roen's brother. Mila, holding Liv, and Musa stood to her right. Clara, holding Aran, and Tess stood to her left. Hanna came running from Fire's rooms and threw herself up into Fire's arms.
They all waiting eagerly, as Lord Faust had sent word that he was bringing someone they would all like to meet.
The clatter of hooves alerted the waiting assembly to the arrival of Lord Faust's party. A front guard, riding bay horses, came first. They were followed by a carriage pulled by two golden mares. Servants on chestnuts and sorrels led brown packs horses behind the carriage. After them came a man on a black stallion, two men on white stallions, and another rider on a river stallion. A rear guard followed on lighter bays. To Fire, it appeared that Lord Faust kept everyone organized by even their horses.
Stable boys ran forward and gathered the bays, chestnuts, and browns as their riders dismounted. From the carriage emerged a woman of Roen's age with yellow blonde hair and pretty blue eyes. A blue dress showed off her gentle curves and willowy grace. "Lady Elaine, Lord Faust's wife," Clara said softly to Fire. Elaine touched the face of one of the golden mares and stepped aside. A younger woman, Clara's age, emerged behind Elaine. She wore her long, chocolate brown hair pulled back with a ribbon that matched her light purple dress. Her blue eyes were gentle as she took a girl Hanna's age in her arms. The second mare nudged the woman, making her smile. "That's Lady Kelly, Faust and Elaine's daughter, and Lily, her own daughter," Clara told them.
Roen stepped forward and embraced Lady Elaine as the other four riders dismounted. The man that turned the black stallion over to a groom was clearly Lord Faust. He had his daughter's brown hair, though his was peppered gray and dancing hazel eyes. He bore a striking resemblance to Roen, marking them as siblings. He greeted the royal family warmly as the two men that had ridden the white stallions came forward. The first was unmistakably Faust and Elaine's son. He had his mother's yellow hair and his father's hazel eyes and tall, broad shouldered build. Besides the hair, he was a spitting image of his father, as his sister was of their mother. "The son is Ceylon. The other man is Tamar, Kelly's husband," Clara went on. Tamar was tall and handsome, with light brown curls that framed a strong face. His brown eyes shown with love when he looked at Kelly and Lily.
Just then, a gust of wind ripped through the courtyard. Fire's hand went to her head scarf a second to late as the wind yanked it free. Her hair flicked out like a banner, drawing looks from all over the courtyard. But Fire was more concerned about the last rider. She could see now that it was a girl, only a few years younger than her. The girl also wore a headscarf and also lost it to the wind. The bright blue hair that billowed out in its own banner held Fire's eyes for too long as the women around her gasped.
"Who are you?" Fire demanded, forcing the though against the girl's closely guarded mind.
"My name is Sky. And you are Fire," the gentleness of the returning thought surprised Fire.
"Are you Cansrel's daughter?" Fire asked less harshly this time.
"Yes. Are you?" the other girl replied.
"Yes. I did not know my father had another child. He killed most of the women he got pregnant. He didn't kill my mother because he didn't know of her pregnancy," Fire told her.
"My mother hid from him when she discovered her pregnancy," Sky sounded as though she were proud of her mother. "She hid from Lord Faust as well."
"Lady Elaine is your mother," Fire realized.
"My mother hid me well. No one knew of me until after Cansrel's death."
"Come up to my rooms. Prince Brigan can show you. If any of your guards are female, bring them."
"Of course. Was that a river mare I saw flee into the gardens?"
"Yes. You can release your stallion with her if you wish."
"I'll do that. When should I join you?"
"When it suits you," Fire withdrew from the girl's mind as Margo brought her another headscarf. She watched as one of the guard handed her sister a headscarf, then retreated inside.
She turned to the women settling around her and looked around. She trusted them all. She could trust them with this. Nodding, she took a deep breath and announced, "Sky is my sister."