Jo's eyes popped open, just as the sun was coming up, and he swung his legs over the side of his bed to go into the living room and tell Ro to turn down the TV, but as he stood there rubbing his eyes, he realized the hoof-beats that had awoken him weren’t coming from the living room, or Mom and Dad's room, either.
They were coming from the ceiling. That meant they were coming from the roof.
Jo, a little freaked out, went into Ro's room and shook her awake, which was a hard thing to do, because Ro slept like a rock and always had.
"What?" Ro said, pulling the covers up over her frazzled-hair head, a little grumpy at being awakened so early.
"Did you hear the hoof-beats on the roof?"
"No, and neither did you – you must have been dreaming," Ro's grumpy voice, muffled by her covers, blew off her brother's intrusion into her own dream about flying on BEN Owl's back and doing loop-de-loops with their seagull friends.
"No. It wasn't a dre…" Jo started to say, and then…
THRUMP! THRUMP! THRUMP!
Hoofbeats from the roof again.
Ro threw back her covers. "Okay. I heard that. What in the world?"
PJs and all, Ro and Jo hurried through the kitchen and out the back door into the yard. They walked halfway to the Team RoJo fort and then turned back toward the house.
Sure enough, there on the roof was a little colt.
"How did a baby horse get up on the roof?" Jo asked his sister, who usually knew just about everything.
"I don't know, but I think the big question right now is how are we going to get him down from there before he falls and hurts himself," Ro answered. Jo looked over at Ro, waggled his eyebrows at her, and then held his hands in front of her eyes and wiggled his fingers.
Ro nodded, looking around, wary of neighbors up early letting dogs outside. They seemed to be in the clear for the moment, and Ro said, "okay go ahead."
Jo held his hands in front of his chest, trying not to look obvious, and made a smooth, 'come here' gesture to the colt.
In a chorus of nickers and whinnies, the small animal rose off the roof shingles and slowly floated to the ground between Ro and Jo. Just before the little horse landed softly, Ro suddenly got a very clear image in her head of a pumpkin patch. And then she got an image of the baby horse landing in that pumpkin patch, with her and her brother on his back. She got a strong feeling from the little horse, that she and Jo were going to find something very important there, that their help was urgently needed.
"Well then, we have to go. We are Team RoJo, and we are supposed to help people," Jo said
"Yes, well, we're also supposed to let Mom and Dad know what's up when we take off," Ro said, already heading for the house.
"There's one other thing," Jo said.
"What's that?" Ro stopped, halfway to the back door, a little impatient at the interruption.
"How are we supposed to ride him? Look at how tiny he is – we'd break his back."
That one stopped Ro in her tracks. She turned back to the baby horse and stared at him. She asked him if he could make himself bigger, like BEN Owl and Sir WHIP do when Ro and Jo need a magical ride to some distant place or time.
The tiny colt shook its head no.
"We're going to need help with this one," Jo said, smiling. "And I think I know just who I need to find. Go tell Mom and Dad what's going on, and I will get started on this."
Ro ran inside at top speed, which was pretty quick – Ro was the fastest sprinter in her whole class at school, and ran like the wind on the baseball diamond, always making her team proud.
Jo led the small horse into the fort, and closed the door behind them. The colt looked around, and took a little drink out of Kato's water dish, as Jo walked over to the crystal ball and held his hands over it as he had seen Grandma Crystal do many times before. Gradually, swirling mists filled the ball, and then, when they began to clear a face appeared. A face that was very dear to Ro and Jo, and even now it smiled out at its grandson.
Gramps Blaze nodded, understanding that Jo needed help, and within a second stood outside the crystal ball, ready to lend a hand – a magical hand, of course.
"Where on earth did you find a Dartmoor colt?" Gramps Blaze asked, so surprised by the baby horse's presence that he forgot his manners and didn't even say hello to Jo.
"Umm, he sort of found us, actually," Jo said, as he & Gramps Blaze both stared at the wee animal.
"I see," Gramps Blaze said, just as Ro burst into the fort.
"Okay, Mom and Dad know what's going on – at least they know as much as I do," Ro said, stepping up beside the little horse. "Hi Gramps Blaze, how are you doing this morning?"
"Hi sweetie, I'm fine. What has the Dartmoor colt told you?" Gramps Blaze asked.
"Dartmoor colt?" she said.
"I'll explain later. If he's shown himself to human beings, there must be a very important reason – maybe even an emergency."
"Yes. He's planted pictures of a pumpkin patch in my head. We need to go there – but he wants us to ride him, and so, Jo called on you to maybe make him big enough so that we don't hurt him."
"You don't need help from me," Gramps Blaze said to the children's surprise.
"We don't?" they both said at the same time.
"No. You just need a lift from Sir WHIP and BEN Owl," Gramps Blaze explained.
"The colt will have his own passenger – and you might need a basket and some bungee cords and a blanket."
"Why?" Jo asked, and immediately realized it was silly to ask Gramps Blaze any more about what he said to do. Just follow directions, and he would understand sooner or later. He shrugged and said, "never mind. This is one of those things we have to figure out for ourselves, right?"
Gramps Blaze smiled and hugged his grandson. "Right-o!"
Before they even called out to them with their voices, Sir WHIP and BEN Owl appeared inside the fort, thanks to magical help from Gramps Blaze. "That I could do," he said, having brought everyone together fast to save the children some time.
"Thanks, Gramps Blaze," Ro and Jo both said, hugging their grandfather wizard before he disappeared in a puff of white smoke.
"Can the little horse ride on your back, Sir WHIP?" Jo asked his fried, and was very surprised when Sir WHIP said no.
"Wait! Why not?" Ro asked. "This trip is important!"
"I'm well aware of that," Sir WHIP said. "But that Dartmoor colt is perfectly capable of keeping up with us."
"But…" Jo began to say as everyone made their way outside.
"No buts! Just pay attention!" Sir WHIP's nose puffed out a little smoke, which usually meant he was losing his patience with silly questions, or that time was being wasted.
The very next moment the little colt floated up into the air before Ro and Jo's eyes!
"He's magical?" Jo said.
"He can fly?" Ro said.
BEN Owl rolled his eyes. "I don't understand why the two of you are always so shocked when creatures turn out to be magical. You are surrounded by magic. Your whole family is magic. You yourselves are magic," the wise old owl said as Ro climbed aboard his back, and Jo mounted Sir WHIP.
"He has a point," Jo said to his sister, inside her head because they were already airborne, and the wind was in all their ears. Ro nodded, laughing. Her owl friend was certainly right about that. After all the wonderful things they'd seen since they found out about their powers, nothing should really surprise them, should it?
They flew for what seemed like forever, and finally, finally they came to a patch of land covered with big, fat leaves.
"It's the pumpkin patch I saw in my head!" Ro shouted into everyone's head with her mind, and pointed down. Then the little colt took the lead and flew down toward the plants with their orange orbs beneath them. Team RoJo landed softly, Sir WHIP and BEN Owl careful to avoid stepping on the vines.
"So what's the big emergency?" Ro said softly to the Dartmoor colt.
The little horse whinnied and, with his front hoof, tapped the ground before him, shaking the leaf of the plant nearest him.
And then they heard it – all of them – a tiny gurgle.
"What the…" Jo said, sounding like Dad without realizing it.
Ro carefully stepped closer to the plant the small horse had tapped with his hoof, and lifted the leaf. Her gasp drew her friends in closer.
"Oh my goodness," she whispered, reaching under the great leaves of the pumpkin plant, between two pumpkins that seemed to guard what Ro now touched, and began to scoop from its cozy niche. "It's an itty-bitty baby!" she said, lifting the teeny infant into her arms, much like she had Jo when she'd first met her little brother.
All of Team RoJo stood around Ro as she held the tiny baby.
"Look," Jo said, "her little ears are pointy on top. Is she some sort of alien, like Mr. Spock?"
"Been watching a little too much Star Trek with Nana Terri," Sir WHIP said softly, and warned the children: "Be careful to talk quietly," he said, and Ro finished for him.
"Right!" she whispered. "Fairies ears are very sensitive. It's best to whisper around them."
"Very good, Ro!" BEN Owl beamed at his friend, who had remembered childhood lessons she'd been taught while on adventures with him.
"Well of course I remembered," Ro said to BEN Owl inside his head with her own mind. "How could I forget all of our wonderful times in Rosieland!"
Mind to mind, Ro sang the little baby in her arms a lullaby that Nana Terri used to sing to her: "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes," from Cinderella. She'd always loved that one, and apparently, so did this baby – whatever it was – she thought. Still singing to the baby in her head, she turned to BEN Owl and whispered, "She's a fairy baby, isn't she?"
"A pixie baby, actually, and her name is Avalon." BEN Owl replied. "And I think you and your brother are meant to take care of her for a while until the fairies come to collect her."
There in the magical, fairy pumpkin patch, Ro, Jo, and Sir WHIP looked back and forth at one another, not really surprised. Just another day in their magical family.
"What are we supposed to do now?" Jo asked softly, rubbing Avalon's little cheek with the back of his pointer finger, as she grabbed his pinkie with her itty bitty little hand, which didn't even fit all the way around his smallest finger.
"Wrap her in the blanket you brought along," BEN Owl instructed as Ro got the soft afghan that Nana Terri had crocheted for her when she was a baby, out of the basket they'd brought along on the adventure. "And while Ro does that, Jo, you need to bungee the basket to the colt's back."
Just then, BEN Owl stopped talking, and listened as Ro's voice blurted inside his head, "Wait! No bungee necessary."
"Ah yes," BEN Owl said on a sigh. "Dartmoor colts are magical horses, sworn to help and protect pixies. The basket will balance magically on the wee horse's back, and Avalon will be fine."
Jo placed the basket on the back of the colt, and surprisingly (to you and me, not so much to Team RoJo) it balanced there perfectly, even when the small horse backed up to Ro and nudged her leg with his butt. She chuckled as she placed tiny baby Avalon inside the basket, and folded the top corner of the blanket down over her face to protect her from the chilly air high above.
All the way back to the fort, Ro wondered why on earth little Avalon was sleeping in a pumpkin patch, how on earth BEN Owl knew her name, where on earth she really belonged, and who on earth were her mommy and daddy. So many questions.
She wouldn't find out all the answers yet. They would come soon, though, and some of them would be a little scary.
Just in time for Halloween next week! Make sure that one of your treats is the rest of this RoJo Adventure story! See you then!
TD – 10/23/2016