Cobrawing called Starpebble to him three weeks later, and said to her seriously, “It’s time to think about getting your brother back.”
Starpebble’s heart leapt and the ache in her heart lessened a bit. She couldn’t say anything, but the look on her face was enough, she knew. Snowstone! Such a tender, loving brother he had been… before he had been stolen. She loved him with all her heart and more.
Cobrawing smiled and turned to Sunfire, who was standing next to him. “Please go fetch Ember and Spark,” he said, shaking out his wings determinedly. “It’s time.”
Summersong walked up. “Time for what, sir?” she asked deferentially. He nodded at her, excitement showing in his face, though he tried not to show it.
“We are going to rescue Starpebble’s brother.”
Summersong was elated but skeptical. “Is it safe?”
Starpebble could barely stop herself from jumping up and down, and as it was, her feathers were fluttering with excitement. “They can hold a shield, but not for more than twenty minutes, and if they combine their powers they should be able to hold it for longer.”
Summersong leaned closer to her. “But is it safe?”
Starpebble suddenly knew what she was talking about and she stared at her. Summersong was asking if Ember would use the silver starfire. Then she pushed aside her fears. Believe in them, she reminded herself. “Yes.”
“I trust you,” said Summersong.
Ember and Spark walked up and greeted the two fillies fondly. It was almost spring, and first Summersong, then Starpebble would become yearlings. Starpebble realized this with a terrific clarity. She was leaving her foalhood behind forever.
She glanced at Ember and remembered the look on his face when he had told him the unsatisfactory answer: “Maybe you just needed to let it out.”
That night Starpebble, Ember, Spark, Summersong, and Sunfire began the journey to Mountain Herd. It would take about a month, since Starpebble was not confident enough in the jet streams. With each passing day Starpebble’s excitement grew until she could hardly sleep for longing. And then the night arrived.
They snuck in, taking cover behind trees, until they reached the edge of Valley Field. There were slightly less pegasus than normal, as the walkers had already left for Canyon Meadow in the north.
Starpebble spotted her brother near the edge, laying down, unguarded. He was a big, strong, two-year-old now, muscles bulging under his hide. He was awake and surveying the herd. She stepped to the edge of the trees and waved her pale-blue wing. It was some minutes before Snowstone spotted her, and every minute she felt as though she would be discovered. And then he saw her and his eyes went wide with astonishment.
He rose and came to her carefully as she retreated back into the trees, then he folded her in a crushing embrace. She closed her eyes and leaned into his warm form, burying her nose in his shoulder.
“I thought I would never see you again,” she mumbled, tears dripping down her cheek. He clutched her tighter, nuzzling her neck. He held her out from him; she read the question in his eyes and said, “I’ve come to take you home.”
Snowstone started. “Starpebble…” he said regretfully. “I don’t want to go home.”