2. Mountain Air

2. Mountain Air

A Chapter by Lynaelee

The air begins to quickly cool off and I put my shawl on. I'm barely halfway to where I need to go. "The berries are worth it. The men, I'm not so sure about," I mumble as I look at a tree blocking my path and pant heavily. Normally, I would scale the rock face cliffside to get around it, but I didn't think to change my shoes. I looked down and purse my lips. "Way to think things out. These shoes are too slippery to try anything like I usually do in," I berate myself. I tap my foot and look at the tree in front of me. It's too wide to walk around. The branches are too high to grab to climb it. The rock face opened up six feet up the tree, which gave me enough room to wiggle by. I put my arm between the tree and rock face. I easily have wiggle room. I grin, find a large rock on the other side and bring it to the opening. I remove my  hand, take off my shawl, knot a corner, and thread it through. Once again, I find the rock and secure my shawl to it. "I'm either desperate or crazy," I mutter as I pull my hand back through and tug. I'm pleased to find the rock holds. I take a deep breath and walk towards the other side of the path and look down the steep embankment. 
"No Clara Hatten bread will be second rate. Get the berries. You need them," I mumble as I tremble at the edge. I sigh again and face the tree. Holding onto it and wrapping my shawl around my arm, I tiptoe around the edge. When my foot finds the other side, I let out a sigh of relief and secure my footing. I tie my shawl around one of the roots so I won't have to redo my anchor in the dark when I come back. The rest of the hike up to my berry patch passes quickly. I sit next to the blueberry bush and begin harvesting, snacking on every fourth one or so. With my basket full, I sit on a rock and watch the sun set and eat my part of my rye bread. The last streak of the crimson sun disappears and I let out a contented sigh. Behind me, the moon begins to climb over the serene lake. I gather my full basket and move towards the water. "Four to six hours total to come up here, pick my berries, and head home. What's another half hour of lost sleep? I can spare some time for a swim," I insist as I start taking off my dress and petticoat. "Besides, it's been a while since I had the time to bathe properly." After tucking my shoes beside the log I was sitting on, folding my clothes, and resting them on my basket, I venture into the chilly water. "Definitely insane," I whisper as my lip quivers. I smile and dive in. I swim out to the middle and just float, taking my hair out and letting the water unravel the braid.
When I feel like a raisin, I swim back to shore. "I could live out here," I murmur as I watch a shooting star and use my petticoat to dry off. I run my fingers through my hair and braid it again. I secure it around my head like a halo and tuck it into the base of the braid. I pull another portion of my rye bread and eat it with a handful of berries. Satisfied and cold, I curl up into a ball against the tree log and close my eyes for a little bit. When I open them again, the moon is high above the lake and clouds are moving quickly across the sky and towards the moon. "No! No! No!" I panic as I quickly put my dress and shoes back on. I cannot safely make it home if my light from the moon is gone. I throw my wet petticoat on top of my berries and tuck it in to keep them in my basket as I run down the path. I make it back to the tree and untie my shawl from the roots and take a running leap around the tree. "I can't believe that worked!" I giggle as I continue to run down the path; it is getting darker by the moment. I'll have to come back for my shawl later. There is still too many jagged twists and turns on this path. Nearing the base of the mountain, I slow down and try to catch my breath. I can do this part in my sleep. I freeze as I hear two men talking around the next bend and a half.
"You think Miss Baker is our mark?" They're talking about me? I press against the wall and pant heavily.
"I sure hope the hellhounds think so. I don't want to be the replacement," the other replies. I gasp as I look towards town and hear a loud howl. Hellhounds? Devil dogs! After me? Why?
"What's that?"
"Bad news, Louis. She's not the mark," the second voice remarks in a shaky tone. "They are going to be coming for us," he whispers. The town suddenly becomes ablaze as more howls are heard. I drop my basket and take off back up the mountain as my basket tumbles down the path. They are afraid and their voices carry up the path, but I dare not slow down. "What was that? Look! Blueberries, rye bread, and a petticoat. Oh! It's her. Let's go, Louis!" 
"You sure, Arthur?"
"We have to see! It'll be our saving grace. But blueberries! And bread. Who else could it be?"
"Oh. Okay. Well let's get her and bring her to Lord Demin," Louis exclaims. I pick up my skirt and run faster.
"I gotta get back to that tree," I pant.
"SHE'S OVER HERE!" Arthur's voice carries over the piercing screams that are coming from town. "SHE'S HERE!" I look back and gasp as I see white figures streaking through the meadow. I stumble over a rock into the cliff face. My face scrapes against it. I groan, pick myself up, and continue to run; I can't stop. The tree is within sight. I can make it. "Baker! Stop," Arthur demands; he is closing in on me. 
"I am not leverage nor will I be your mark," I yell over my shoulder. A shrieking snarl stops me in my path. I am now feet away from the tree to safety. I look up in the tree and gasp as yellow eyes look down at me. I look back over my shoulder as I hear feet approaching. Further down the path, I hear rocks sliding across the path as someone -or something- climbs it in a hurry. Arthur and Louis round the bend and meet my eye. Their feet remain stationary but the sliding rocks continue. My eyes widen more in fear. 
"Just stop!" Louis pants, resting his hands on his knees.
"No! I would rather take my chances with a mountain lion than with you," I yell as I sprint towards the tree, making eye contact with the large cat in the tree again. My heart stops in my chest and I am completly terrified, but I refuse to freeze; that will ensure my immediate death. I pick up my shawl and hurl myself around the tree just as the giant cat leaps out of the tree over me. I quickly pull the rock that has my shawl tied around it with me and keep running as I hear the men scream and the dogs howl again. It's a blood curdling sound.  I look over my shoulder but keep moving forward. I begin twirling my shawl as I keep running. "Gotta find a good defensive position," I tell myself as the cat shrieks and the dogs whine. I keep running towards the lake, running out of breath. I find a climb-able tree and make my way up. A near slip, causes me to panic all over again. I hoist myself up and keep climbing. Once I am up as high as I can go before the branches become too small to support my weight any more, I rest against the trunk and look back towards town, panting heavily. A soft orange glow fills the night and I know my village is no more, destroyed by fire and hellhounds. "I am responsible for this," I say softly. I weep as I hear another howl. At least the sound seems to be travelling away from me. I press my hand against my head, only to pull it away and find blood. My stomach churns and acid begins to rise up my throat. About ready to spew, I catch sight of the mountain lion again and swallow; I can't give away my position. With the moon behind and above my tree, any movement will quickly give me away, but retching will give the cat a sound and smell to follow. He doesn't appear to be hurt, much to my dismay. He runs towards the lake and the log I slept by earlier. He sniffs the air and slows his pace looking around, making his way back towards me. I wrap my shawl tightly around my hand while the other hand gets ready to use the rock as a weapon. I will not go down like this. 
The cat walks around the base of my tree. My heart beats faster. My breathing becomes shorter. I keep my eyes glued on the massive animal below me. Slowly, he looks up and spots me. I hold my breath and he begins to climb. Terrified, I swing my rock around in circles, gaining momentum. I pull my legs up to my chest and hold onto the tree for dear life. He's roughly fifteen feet away, or like ten branches down. Make that eight branches. Tears fall down my cheek silently. Five branches and now on the other side of the tree. I can hear his breathing. He rounds the corner and I throw my rock at him. He snarls and pulls back as I connected with his paw. "Bad kitty," is all I can manage in nothing more than whisper. He continues his climb, his eyes locked on mine as I pull up my shawl again and get ready to swing my rock at him again. I'm trembling and my rock is swinging uncontrollably around. He reaches his paw out again and hooks my skirt, tearing it as I wack him with the rock again. He falls down several branches and looks back up at me with a low growl. "Bad kitty," I repeat around a sob. He climbs all the way down and rests at the base of my tree, looking back up at me. I'm shaking so bad, I fear I may fall out of the tree. I look over towards the lake.
"I guess I got my wish. I'm living out here now," I whisper as I tie my shawl around my waist and the trunk of the tree. I keep the end with rock loose yet close and pray I won't need it again tonight.

© 2017 Lynaelee

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Added on July 30, 2017
Last Updated on August 30, 2017



Sometimes I feel like I need an outlet to express myself. I have never been good with verbal communication, but I have always found an out in writing. I hurt. I bleed. I make mistakes. I cry. Yes,.. more..

If only If only

A Book by Lynaelee

1. *Prologue* 1. *Prologue*

A Chapter by Lynaelee