3. Buckwheat

3. Buckwheat

A Chapter by Lynaelee

As the great feline below me stretches out and looks back towards the path, I slowly pull my legs away from chest and try to breathe. I look back at my hand and pluck a few leaves to try and clean up the blood. I try unsuccessfully to stifle my cries and gasp as the massive animal below me looks up again. Another howl causes us both to look towards the path.
Hellhounds, mountain lions, and strangers. All who want me dead in some form. Why me? I lower my head to my chest and weep. All I wanted to do was share my love of all things baked. The two years I had spent in that little town where I provided joy with a simple pastry, a loaf of bread, or even -for special occasions- a cake, had been the best years of my life. Nobody wanted my baked goods in the bayou. Not only was the swamp that I lived on marshy and full of creatures in all shapes and sizes, but my bread often got bugs and moss in it, couldn't rise properly, and overall just looked unsightly - at least in my eyes. I thought I had left my problems of being alone and chased by animals that could eat me behind me in that humid, vastly green, buggy area. I dry my eyes, watch the great cat's tail twitch, and try to sleep. In the morning, I would try find a way to get past all of the vicious animals with sharp teeth; at least I hoped I would. 
Several hours later, a low growl startles me fully awake. The mountain lion below me is now in a pouncing position. I look around the tree towards the direction the cat is looking. The sun is starting to rise, but the air in that direction looks gray. My eyes widen as I see Louis and Arthur walking up the hill, both with a bloody shoulder. I look back down at the cat to see what he'll do. "Follow them," I beg internally, knowing that fresh blood works in my favor and they had much more on their clothes than I did on mine. It'll give me the chance I need to run away again. I lean back into the tree and close my eyes as the cat shifts and looks up. My hand tightens around my shawl with the rock. I'm easy prey, but I hope he wants a challenge like those men would provide. After not hearing anything, I open my eyes and look down again. I grin and quickly untie my shawl; the massive lion is gone.
I try to climb down as quickly and quietly as I can. My shawl slips from my grasp and clamors down and I freeze, hugging the tree. A quick look around confirms that no vicious beast with sharp teeth heard that and was running towards me. I scurry down the tree. My dress catches on a small knob. I try and release it only to cut my hand. "Agh!" I cry out as I land on the ground. Another growl catches my attention and I bolt. I don't bother picking up my shawl or anything to defend myself; I just want to get out of here. I start taking off towards the path. If those men and that cat went up, I would go down. It isn't long before I feel someone chasing me, but I don't want to see who or what and keep running. 
Turning a corner, I step on my dress and stumble. I cry out, crawl to a standing position and hike up my dress. Only to be tackled to the ground again. I weep, pull my knees up to my chest, and cover my head with my hands, trying to make myself as small as possible. I sit there trembling. I can feel the warm air on my neck as the animal breathes on me. I can feel the massive body surround me. It lowers down upon me, crushing me just a little bit. I straighten my legs to give me a little more room between our bodies. I wait for the bite that is meant to be the start of the end of my life. It never comes. I open my eyes and look beside me. A giant, tan, fur paw is right there; no claws are shown. It rises and I gasp as it pushes on my shoulder, rolling me to my back. I put both hands in front of my face and close my eyes again. The coarse tongue brushes over my cut up hand and I let out a terrified yelp. My hands are shaking uncontrollably but the tongue doesn't stop. "Make it quick," I plead as I lower my hands to my chest, turn my head, and cry. "Please, kill me quickly," I beg as I expose my neck more, knowing it's my most vulnerable spot. I can feel him sniff me. I close my eyes tighter and weep as his whiskers run over my face. Then I feel him licking by my eye and up my forehead. I let out another startled gasp, but don't move aside from the constant trembling. 
After several moments, I feel the presence move away from me. "I must be dead! I didn't feel a thing," I think. However, my body still trembles and I am aware of the air entering and leaving my lungs. I open my eyes and examine the area in front of me. I failed. I didn't even make it to the path. It is a good eight feet away. I sit up, look around, and gasp. By my feet, the mountain lion sits. His honey-brown colored eyes are watching my every move. I pull my legs up and look behind me. The cat growls softly and I look back at him.
"Is that a threat? Don't try and run again?" I taunt as tears continue to fall down my cheek. The cat yawns and lays down. "Definitely insane," I mutter as I glare at the animal. "Talking to a mountain lion like he understands me. You are a he, right? Ugh!" He looks at me and if it was possible for animals to smirk, I would swear the large cat was doing just that. I point up the hill. "The men who want to turn me over to some lord that raises hellhounds went that way. I think it's best to avoid them. The only place I enjoyed calling home has most likely been destroyed. I'm hungry, tired, scared, and have to use the bathroom. My dress is ruined. My bakery is gone. I don't need you to tell me what I can or cannot do. I am going to go down that path and I will try to start over again. If you want to stop me, you should eat me now." I stand up and move towards the path. The mountain lion leaps around me and blocks my way. "What are you doing? Toying with your food?" I snap as I stomp my foot. I spin around on my heels and walk towards the blueberry bush. Again the cat cuts me off. I throw my hands up in exasperation and freeze as he nears me and sits in front of me. As I stand, he is two heads taller than me when he sits up straight. I look down at our feet and pant. This animal is bigger than I ever thought possible and not on a slope to give me a misconception. I tremble again as he stands up again and looks me in the eye; our heads are even. Neither one of us is stretching or straining. "Nice kitty," my voice quakes. He lowers his head and nuzzles my shoulder, pushing me slightly in the direction the men went. "I can't," I breathe. A low rumble moves through him and I'm frozen to the spot. Terrified, I wet myself. The cat still doesn't move away or stop growling as he pushes me again. "Okay," I whisper and move in the direction he wants me to go. 
He stays behind me and I look towards the path again. He nudges me and I look forward again. I walk in silence but keep looking over my shoulder at the cat and towards the path. I am slowly getting further and further away from it. I gulp; I don't know my way around up here very well. Whenever I came up here, I stuck close to the path, dredged a new one towards the lake, and didn't venture out too much. "Safe to assume we're going off the beaten path? I don't know the area," I grumble and look at my feet with a sigh. "Clara, you are a work of art. Talking to a cat like you would anyone," I mutter, not looking to see where I'm going. I look up in fright as he pushes me again and I stumble forward. This time, I'm being led towards a field of barley wheat and weeds. I look back and raise an eyebrow. "Barley? You want me to grind flour? I can't eat that raw. With the stalks being so tall, I'm sure it's rotten too," I explain. The mountain lion looks down, growls softly, and narrows his eyes. I sigh and keep moving forward, through the grain. I grab a single stalk and play with it. "I know I'm crazy for continuing to talk to you, but it helps with my nerves. I hope you understand me some, but that's a foolish thought. So do you have a name, kitty? Or is this just another mind game thing." I look back over my shoulder only to find that the mighty feline isn't there. I turn around slowly and begin to panic again. The wheat is taller than me and I can't tell which way I came or which way I was supposed to go. I walk backwards slowly. "Kitty," I whisper. "I would rather know where you are." I keep turning around slowly, staying quiet. I don't like this. A twig snapping to my right startles me and I jump backwards, tripping yet again. I let out a small, muffled yelp as I crash to the ground again. This time, my ankle twists and I can feel it starting to swell. I bite my lip and squeeze it gently as a few tears slip out. 
"She's gotta be out here somewhere. I swear I just heard her cry out," a voice murmurs. I look around and scoot backwards. It sounds like he is in the wheat field, but the wind was carrying the voice so one word sounded like it came from my right, the next from my left. "I'm looking for anything that moves. She's close. I can feel it." I freeze yet again, too afraid of moving in case the barley gives me away.
"Where, Lu? Where? Look around! She's not here! Besides, I didn't hear anything. When was the last time you had your ears checked?" Arthur lashes out angrily. 
"Lose the attitude, Arty. We have three days before we need her. Chances are we are dead before then though. With her, we are safe from the inevitable doom looming over our heads now. We know what she looks like. We know where she's from. We found the berries she collects. There's not too many places she can hide up here, but she has the advantage of knowing the area. Once the sun sets, we'll have help. We have no choice now; we have to find her first if we have any hope of living beyond the blood moon," Louis insists.
"You better hope that blasted cat doesn't find her. Did you see how big it was? If those hellhounds didn't show up, that cat could have swallowed us whole. If we don't find her again, we're more than dead. Let's go try the water. She needs water to survive up here and she only has two legs to get around on. Not to mention, those berries bushes seem to be more abundant in that area. She can't get very far," Arthur insists. The wheat shifts beside me and I gasp as the mountain lion makes his appearance again. He nuzzles my shoulder as he settles in behind me and curls around my side, offering me a support to brace upon if I chose to use it. I lean away slightly; getting comfortable with a wild animal is when it'll turn on me. I look back at my ankle and the tall grains growing around me. I didn't even know this area existed. If this lion hadn't directed me here, those men would have found me for sure. I sigh and look up as it dawns upon me.
"You're protecting me?" I whisper as more tears threaten to fall down my face. Once again, the massive cat nuzzles my shoulder. I wipe my eyes as I pull away from him. "I'm not sure I know why. I've always been a nobody; I wouldn't be missed. I can pretty much guarantee, if my village somehow survived, not one person would try to find me. Yet for some bizarre reason, you care. I guess having an animal care about me is better than nothing at all," I confess. I look down at my hand. My cut should still be raw and sore, but it practically looked healed. I hold it out to the cat after rubbing my temple; that didn't hurt either. "Did you do this? Not just getting rid of all the nasty blood, I mean. I don't mind that; I hate blood. However, there's not a single cut when there should be a few. Did you take them away somehow?" He puts his paw on my hand and blinks slowly. "You do understand me! Don't you?!" I exclaim in shock. He nuzzles my shoulder again and bounces my hand. I grin. "I never knew mountain lions could seal wounds. Then again, who would ever get close enough to know that? I'm Clara. You're shaking my hand like humans do when they meet! You're an odd cat, but thank you. It's a pleasure to meet you. I'll find a name for you too; I don't want to keep calling you kitty. Just please stop scaring me and sneaking up on me. I'm rattled enough and if you want me to continue to trust you, that stipulation has to stay in place. Well that and no eating me. I'm trusting you to not lead me into a den of hungry animals or something." The mountain lion rubs his head against my cheek as he removes his paw. Instinctively, I lean away; he follows. When he pulls back I hike up my dress and take off my boot so I can rub my ankle tenderly. I take off my other boot and compare ankles; a bruise and a lump have already formed on the inner side of my ankle. The cat scratches my skirt again, shredding it more. "Hey!" I gasp. He holds up my skirt scraps. I grab them and look in disbelief at my dress. "That wasn't necessary. The last thing we need to do is let them find a trail of dress scraps," I rebuke as I tuck them into my boots. "So are we staying in the field? I feel a little uneasy being out in the open like this" He looks over his shoulder and stands up. I look at my boots and kick them over, I wouldn't put them back on ever again. I stand up too. Gingerly, I put weight on my ankle and cry out softly. The cat crouches down in front of me and lifts his rear end up in the air. "I thought you just agreed to leaving! Is this play time? What? Ugh! Stretching? Pouncing? What are you doing?" He nuzzles my leg and tries to go between them. I hop back and meet his eye in disbelief. "That's your plan? Get me to ride you?!" I ask in shock. The cat leans into me and I hop back again. He growls softly and stands up. He nuzzles my cheek before crouching down again. I shake my head. "I can't even ride a horse. You are a wild animal and aren't trained to carry people." Again, he leans into me and I put my hands on his back to keep from toppling over. "You're soft!" I gasp, expecting his fur to feel coarse like his tongue. He stands up, shifts his shoulders, and takes off, with me on his back. I let out a cry and move to hold onto anything I can; he doesn't stop or slow down. "No! No! No! I will fall. Please! I don't want to hurt you and I'm completely terrified. How am I supposed to do this?" I ask as I pull the fur on his back and the other hand holds onto his front shoulder. Thankfully, he's not growling or snapping his teeth at me because of my actions. However, he still keeps moving. I feel like I'm going to fall even more so. He wiggles his shoulders and I'm thrown a little more squarely on his back. I wrap my arms around his throat and position my body so I was in-line with him. I close my eyes and hold on for dear life as he goes up the mountain at what I feel to be his top speed. 
After what seemed like a lifetime, my arms become heavy and sore because I was tense the whole time, and my ride is finally slowing down. I hear a babbling brook and open my eyes. The creature was taking me straight up a steep shale rock face. When he levels off, I slide off, refusing to let him slow down more or stop all together. I fall to my knees to keep the world from spinning; it's a battle I'm not winning. He gives me a disgusted look as I hold onto the wall and lose the contents of my stomach. When I am done throwing up, I look at the mighty cat again. "I don't move like you do. I don't travel like that. I apparently hate speeds," I whisper. I point to the stream. "Are you going to freak out if I go rinse my mouth?" He sits down, yawns, and stretches. I look at him skeptically but make my way towards the river bank. I look up at the sun and gasp. More than half the day had passed. I look back at the cat; he seemed very smug right now. I sigh and lower myself down to the ground. After rinsing my mouth, I slide into the water up to my hips. The cool water feels good on my ankle and now scraped up knees and hands, and the current washes away the remnants of my accident earlier. I look over my shoulder and smile broadly. I pluck the plant that caught my eye and hold it up. The large cat comes down to the water and rubs his head against my hand. 
"Do you know what this is? It's called buckwheat. There are many uses for this plant. The hulls can be used for comfort, jewelry, and decoration. When ground up, the flour matches the color of your fur. It's good raw and is like the chocolate of grains. It's sweet and nutritional. It's an oxymoron, like you. You shouldn't be so friendly with me. I'm your food, but instead you care for me like I'm one of your babies; you protect me, guide me, and even carry me. Thank you for not carrying me by my neck like you would your own litter and for being kinda patient with me. It baffles me and I'm sorry if I pulled too hard on your fur or squeezed too tight around your neck," I murmur. He rubs his head down my shoulder and back up to my hand holding the plant. I grin and continue, "you even rebuke me like a parent would with their child. 'Stay on task, Clara.' I'm getting there. I was just telling you this plant is an oxymoron like you are and can be used for more than just eating. I listed some of the things it's good for, but I think I may have found a name for you. Can I call you Buckwheat? Buck for short. I think it works better than Rye, Barley, Flax, or even Oat. Sorry. I think in types of flours and grains. Baking is who I am." I look into his eyes and hold my breath as his honey eyes seem to peer through me. He nuzzles my shoulder again and leans into me. I drop the plant and hesitantly bring my hand to his face. "Buck it is," I murmur and stroke his fur. "This goes against all my reasoning. I shouldn't be trusting you: a mountain lion, a cougar, a large ferocious animal that can maim me without much effort. Thank you for protecting me, looking out for me, and guiding me up here. Do we need to press on?" He nuzzles my cheek. "Okay. I think my leg is numb now. I want to walk. I really don't want to get sick again." He licks my hand and takes off up stream. I nod, collect a handful of the buckwheat plant, tuck it into the folds of my dress, and stand up again. I follow Buck at a slower pace but he doesn't seem to mind. He doesn't once look back, but his ears keep twitching like he's listening for me. After about a mile of walking, I have to stop as my ankle is throbbing and I am limping severely. I look to my left at the trees for some shade and make my way over there. I see a bee hive and grin. 
Buck comes up beside me and nudges me softly. "Sorry, Buck. I need a break. I was just going to sit down in the shade but then I found a scrumptious treat. Do you like honey? I do. I'm going to get some." He shakes his fur and begins grooming himself. I grin and start climbing up the tree. My ankle doesn't like having to balance on the limbs so it's slow going. I grimace as I try to go up another branch and slip on my dress. I let out a small yelp and continue to try and climb, but the only foot I can get a decent foothold with is my sprained one. I grit my teeth and press on. When both my feet are secure, and I try to get the folds of my dress out of the way, Buck surprises me by tugging on my skirt again with his claws. I look down at him and scowl. "I'm getting the honey," I insist. Buck jumps up past me and slinks out onto the branch with the bee hive. He swats at it and rips off a piece of the hive, puts it in his mouth, and makes his way back down to me. I stare at him as he tucks himself between me and the branch I'm holding onto. "Stop!" I panic and hold onto the branch tighter. "You're going to make me fall! Stop." He continues to push me away from the tree. My feet slide off the branch I'm on and he repositions himself, pushing me again. I yelp as he claws at my dress. Unable to hold on, I wrap my arm around his neck as he moves his shoulder around my hip and he carries me down the tree. I tremble and sit on a stone. He drops the honeycomb on my lap. I look at him wide eyes and drop it on the ground. "Buck, you can't do that!" I cry out. I move away from him and angrily grind the plants I had picked up earlier. I lean over, wrap my arms around my knees, and sob. 
When I'm done throwing my fit, I select a large leaf and sweep my buckwheat grounds into it. I make my way back over to the rock that Buck set me on to start off with. He was still sitting there, waiting for me and studying my every move. I pick up the honeycomb and pour the honey onto my leaf. "Thank you for my honey. If you make me feel like I'm going to fall or do anything like that ever again, I will throw myself in the brook and travel downstream. I will scream and yell if you try to stop me. If the stream isn't available then I'll find some way down the hill and away from you," I warn. He nuzzles my shoulder then moves upstream. I wrap up my leaf, tuck it into my dress for a snack later, eat the honeycomb, and look back up at him. He has stopped moving, is looking at me over his shoulder, and is flicking his tail impatiently. I look downstream; I really don't want to go down, because for some odd reason I trust the cat and I don't want to be away from him if he is protecting me from the men and the army of hellhounds. I also don't know the area around here so getting lost wouldn't be very hard to do. Buck growls. I pick up the folds of my dress and reluctantly keep hiking. "Fine. I'll go upstream with you. Just don't make me ride you again. You better know what you're doing, Buck. Because right now, you are still a better bet than those men or dogs that come with," I mumble.

© 2017 Lynaelee

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Added on July 31, 2017
Last Updated on November 19, 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