Hey, readers. This is my first Tamora fic, but feel free to be brutal. I don't think it's quite right yet, but I thought I would get suggestions before I made any more changes. The idea for this just popped into my head, and I thought I would write it!

Disclaimer: Tamora Pierce is a literary genius. I am simply a crazed fan. Tamora Pierce owns these characters. I do not.

The sound of birds singing filled the bright nursery at Pirate's Swoop as four-year-old Aly gazed out the window, eyes wide with wonder at the unusual number of birds flying around her home. Her curious nature made it almost impossible to ignore them, not when there were so many around. Her twin, Alan, had no interest in the birds. He was too busy arguing with Maude.

"But I want to play with Thom!" the little boy pouted, sticking out a pink lip. "I'll be good, I promise!"

"Enough of that," Maude sighed, shaking her head at his sulking mouth. "Your mother would have my head if I were to let you out."

Distracted, Alan gazed up at Maude curiously. "Mama wants your head?"

Aly payed her caretaker's exasperated explanation no mind. Keeping her eyes on the window, she rose from her position on the floor and starts towards it quietly, plump little legs moving silently. Maude didn't even glance her way, preoccupied as she was with Alan. Step by step, Aly approached the window eagerly, delighted at the rays of light that glinted in the inky wings of the ravens, and the white plumes of the gulls. An eagle made its graceful way past Aly's line of vision, followed by a chattering flock of crows. Aly quickened her pace, keen to see her favorite birds.

Finally, she reached the window. The top of her reddish-blonde head barely brushed the ledge, and she stretched as high as she could, peering inquisitively outside. Behind her, Maude chastised Alan for not taking proper care of his toy, but Aly's attention was held by the flocks of winged creatures perched nearby. Most of them were jostling for a position near the stable. Confused, Aly stretched still higher, trying to see better. Now she could see smaller groups of other animals—cats, dogs, and various forest creatures—clustered around the courtyard.

Is someone feeding them? she wondered, squinting. Why are they all here?

Just as these thoughts entered her head, three figures came dancing out of the stable doors, and Aly briefly recognized Princess Kalasin, Prince Roald, and Thom before a fourth, taller figure followed meekly. Aly gasped and covered her eyes quickly, nearly losing her balance. The fourth figure glowed like a miniature sun, the light making Aly's young eyes water. Hurriedly, she adjusted her Sight so that that light dimmed to a more bearable glow and stared down at the stranger.

It was one of the Swoop's visitors, from the group that had come the day before. Aly struggled to remember her name. Daine, the girl who could help animals. Aunt Thayet had told her and the other children just last night that Daine was a kind of mage; maybe that was why she glowed so brightly in Aly's magical Sight.

"Aly?" Maude's worried voice called. "Where—oh, there you are." The aged woman came to stand behind her charge. "Come now, what are you gawking at?"

The little girl pointed a small finger at Daine down below, who now seemed to be talking to the young royals and Thom. Maude cocked her head, gazing down at the small group.

"Yes, that's one of the new Riders," she commented, reaching down for Aly's hand. "Your ma says she's a right help with the animals."

"She glows," Aly said, sounding for all the world as though she'd never heard of such a thing. Maude laughed.

"And you're not used to that by now, having the Sight and the parents that you do?" she asked, still chuckling. "You see glowing people every day. What's so different about this one?"

Aly sighed. It was obvious that the wizened old woman couldn't see the difference between the typical glow from Alanna and George and the blinding shine from this new girl. Maude gently guided Aly back to her brother, who appeared to have forgotten all about his desire to join his brother as he recreated a battle with his toy soldiers. Aly only pretended to be absorbed in the doll in her hands as her mind went over her newfound mystery. She desperately wanted to sneak another look outside, but knew that Maude wouldn't let her, so she contented herself with daydreams, instead.

At noon, Alanna arrived in the nursery. Aly and Alan both dropped their toys and ran to her, clamoring for her attention. Alanna smiled.

"I thought I would come help you for a bit," she told Maude, laughing over her children's heads. Maude smiled appreciatively, watching as Alan clung to his ma's dress. Alanna bent to pick up her son, and a necklace came free of her bodice. Aly watched as it swung back and forth. It was a small, frozen ember attached to a chain, given to Alanna by the Goddess. It was a story that Aly knew well, but at that moment all she could focus on was the glow emanating from the odd piece of jewelry, a light just like the one shining in Daine.

Puzzled, Aly reached out a small hand and fingered the necklace. Alanna's hand covered her daughter's.

"Something bothering you, Aly?" the Lioness asked, tweaking her daughter's tiny nose. Alanna had learned early on that her young daughter had a knack for brooding, and would spend hours at a time thinking, when she wasn't wreaking havoc with her brother.

Aly nodded slowly, still entranced with the necklace. "Mama," she started, "what does a goddess look like?"

Smart Aly. Hahaha So, suggestions would be welcome, and thanks for reading!