“I think now is a good time,” said Mama Jack. “Follow me.”
In the farmyard, the animals gathered around and excitement permeated the air. Raskee strutted ahead, his tail waved with pride. Even the bright red rooster bowed as they passed.
At the shed, once more the strange black fire license plate drew Finny’s attention. This time he stopped and stared at it. “Mama Jack?”
“Why is this one so different from all the others?” As if in answer to the question, molten liquid rolled along the surface and mounded. Finny stepped back when a soft plop warned and a bubble burst. A fiery fountain flowed out and down to the ground where grass flamed. Finny’s eyes watered. His throat burned and he coughed from the smoke that wafted over him from acrid fumes that filled the air. Molten liquid spread along the ground before them leaving a scorched trail that blocked their way.
“You mustn’t ask that question. The others are listening.”
“O…others?” Finny licked his suddenly dry lips.
“I’ll tell you more, once we get into the shed,” said Mama Jack.
A soft whinny called them to hurry.
A deep throaty nicker vibrated through the air. “Follow me.” Mama Jack moved off the path. “The fire won’t go here.” The ground rose into a small hill with scorched edges that gave evidence of an earlier flow of molten liquid, and left dirt void of flammable material. The smell of burning grass warned it had not stopped there, but continued into fresh vegetation. Finny rubbed his nose in a vain effort to block the harsh fumes. Only when he followed his grandmother onto the mound and down the other side did he find the freshness he wanted.
Double doors, that had banged so last night, remained quiet until Mama Jack opened them, then they squeaked greeting. Straw and fresh hay cleansed the air. Finny inhaled the wonderful fragrance.
“At last.” Misty raised her head and winked.
Beside her, a translucent form moved to put the unicorn between her and the newcomers.
“These are the friends I told you about.” Misty turned her head to the form. “There is nothing to fear. You remember Mama Jack.”
In acknowledgement, Mama Jack held out open hands, empty palms up. “Surely you remember me. Your mother and I were great friends. This is my grandson Finny. We mean you no harm.”
When the translucent form stepped from behind Misty, Finny realized it was a girl, not much older than he. “You were in the book,” he whispered.
The girl nodded and her form faded more.
Before Finny could say any more to comfort her, stomping, snorting and flapping wings from the next stall drew everyone’s attention. A horse’s head blended with the dark surface of the wall. If not for bright sunlight that streamed through the doorway, it would have been invisible.
“Ah, Zeufin is finally here,” said Mama Jack.
A deep throaty nicker vibrated through the air. “Finally is a fair description of it.” said a voice deeper than Dad’s. “A storm is brewing. It’s not one that will be easily weathered.” He turned his muscled neck to stare at Finny with the richest red-brown eyes seen. “It will take all of us to overcome it. But…” He brought his nose against Finny’s outstretched hand. “If you haven’t found the magic within yourself we will surely fail.”
“I can see unicorns.” Finny reminded him. That’s what they’d told him was important.
“That is not enough.”