A Llama Tale - Adventure's of a 12 year old girl and her llama, Moche
The days were passing quickly now and everyone was busy. Mom had started working on something special when she found out that Jack and Annie Perch were coming to visit. Grandfather was getting things ready for our trip to the Rendezvous. So after my studies I didn't have much to do except play with Moche. This day we were wandering outside the big wall of boulders that fenced in the llama's valley. Moche and I had a favorite spot out here and that's where we were headed.
"Slow down Moche!"
There was no stopping him. So I ran to keep up as he skipped and hopped along the trail that followed the outside wall of the valley. Way down at the very end of the valley, where the wall met the mountain, was a little grotto with a pool of water and some scruffy pine trees.
I liked the quietness of this place and the pool of water. There was no view but pretty little flowers grew along the base of the mountain wall. I had brought my sea shell collection here some weeks ago for the shallow pool. This was my secret place. Moche liked the pine trees. There weren't any others up here. He would circle the trees until he found just the right little stem of pine needles and then he'd eat it.
"Whew! .... There!" We'd been coming here for some time now and I never did see any one place where a tree looked bitten off.
Moche was already searching for his morsel. I so like this place. There are high rock walls on three sides if you count the valley wall. There's just one narrow opening that lets you in through the dense shrubs that grow all along the length of the valley wall. The wind never seems to blow as hard here and the sunlight that reflects off the stone walls makes it warm and toasty. I was going to fish one of my sea shells out of the pool when I heard a rock crash over against the valley wall.
"Max? Is that you, Max? Olin?"
Nobody seemed to be there, so I went back to looking for the shell that I wanted. My nice shells were bigger than the others and they always seemed to slide down into the deeper part of the pool. There it was ....... but suddenly Moche was making an alarm call. The llamas make a sound like a donkey when they feel that something is really wrong. I looked up and didn't see anything.
Then another rock fell over by the valley wall. I looked around in that direction.
There was a lion, a mountain lion, up on the wall of the llama's valley. He just stood there, not making a sound.
I can remember his eyes ... they were mean and yellow. Slowly, he started to move along the wall toward us. Moche started to hum really loud and then he gave another alarm call.
"Shoo. Shoo! Get out of here! .... Max! Max!" There was no place to go. To get out we'd have to run right by him.
Moche gave another alarm call. Then the lion fell off the wall. I don't think he jumped because he landed on his side with a big thud and then he screamed. That made my arms and legs just go cold. He turned and rolled in a circle as if he was fighting with something. Then he stopped dead still.
I didn't know where Moche was but neither one of us could get out past him.
The lion had stopped dead still, like he was trying to remember something. Then he looked up and saw me. A horrible light came on in his eyes. They got bigger, brighter and more yellow.
Then he was racing right at me. One bound. Two bounds. I thought, two more and he'll be here. I couldn't move or speak. The lion seemed to be leaping in slow motion. Three bounds. WHAM!!!
I was still frozen but I could see and hear everything. A rock hit the lion in the side of the head. He fell down when the rock hit him and he rolled around snarling and fighting with himself.
Then he stopped again, dead still, as if he was still trying to remember something. WHAM!!!
Another rock hit him in the side of the neck. He was off - moving in the blink of an eye, straight at the lady.
She was about Mom's age but with brown hair like mine. She was much larger than Mom though with square broad shoulders and hands like Grandfather's. Her hair was long and pulled back in a pony tail with a pretty ribbon of some type. She wore leather trousers, a red wool shirt and a gray fur vest with a hood that hung down on her back.
"Erkf." I couldn't even move my mouth. I wondered if the lady was an elf. Grandfather told lots of stories about the mountain elves. She had just two large buttons on her shirt, near the top. I could see that there were pictures carved on the buttons but I couldn't see them clearly.
I tried to make another sound, but I couldn't. The lion was moving toward the lady. One bound. Two bounds. Three ...... he'd be there in two more.
She had dropped to one knee with her other leg braced behind her. There was a big knife in her right hand and she held her right wrist with her left hand. The knife was pointed at the lion, low and parallel to the ground with the sharp side down. I remember her eyes were light blue and calm. She didn't shout or scream. She didn't even seem scared. Just calm, so very calm, eyes focused on the lion, waiting and ready.
Bound ...... I thought one more ....... then ..... BUMP!!!
"Mocheee!!!" I finally made a sound.
Moche came out of nowhere and bumped the lion right over. Then the lion started to roll around, fighting with himself again. Moche jumped sideways and ran back into the pine trees behind me. The lady slowly circled around the lion and backed over by me. She kept the knife pointed at the lion who was rolling and fighting and screaming.
"Back up toward the trees." Her voice was soft and calm.
"Huh?" I made another sound.
"Back up toward the trees. Back up behind me, around the pool and toward the trees. Don't run. Just stay very close and we'll back up together." She never took her eyes off the lion.
I started to move slowly, staying behind her. I could feel myself breathing again. The lion was still fighting with himself. He screamed and screamed and screamed. Then he stopped dead still again, just as we reached the pine trees.
Moche gave another alarm call. It would have been funny in that little grotto with the donkey sound echoing off the walls but that brought the lion around.
He was just starting to bound toward us again when four dogs that looked just like Max and Olin ran into the grotto. The lead dog leaped onto the lion's shoulders and over and over they rolled. The dogs were the same size and color as the lion.
Over and over they rolled, two dogs in the pile then three.
The outside dog was biting at the lion's feet.
"Easy Honey, don't move. It's not over yet." Her voice was so calm and clear.
I didn't move but I sure felt safer. The lady stayed in that position with the knife out in front of her, never moving.
Then up!!! .... The lion was out of the pile and he tried to jump back onto the valley wall. He missed and fell back down.
The dogs were running at him when he jumped again. But before he landed on the wall a long black arrow went right through his chest and he dropped to the ground.
There was a man, bigger than Dad or Grandfather or almost anybody I had ever met. He was dressed just like the lady, but he didn't look like an elf, maybe more like a giant. The dogs surrounded the lion but they didn't touch it now. One dog had a long slash on its shoulder but otherwise they all looked ok.
The lady said, "Are you ok, Hon?"
"Huh? Where's Moche?" I thought how he had saved me and the lady.
"He's behind you. I think he's decided to eat a pine tree?"
"Thank you. Your very pretty."
"Your pretty yourself. Will you be all right if I go over and check Elizabeth?" She put both her hands on my arms and I started to feel them again. I don't think I moved my arms during the whole time.
"Yes, I'm ok. I'll go over and see Moche." Moche was fine. He sniffed and danced a little when I walked back to see him but then he went back to nibbling on a pine tree. I just sat down on the ground and listened to the people.
"Sorry I got here late." The big man had long black hair and a round shaggy black beard.
I started to yawn a lot but I wasn't sleepy. Moche nudged me to play but I just sat there and listened to the people talk. I still wasn't sure if they were people or elves. I didn't think they could be elves, they must be people. I wasn't sure.
"Your not late Jack if we're still alive. I hit this guy two times with a rock from my sling and he charged right for me rather than running away. There's something unusual about the way he was acting. He fell off that wall and then kept rolling over on himself."
The man bent over the dead lion and then turned him over.
"Well now we'll see why. Look at those shoulders, in his day this was a real big cat."
"His eyes didn't look that old when I was facing him down."
"He broke my arrow when he fell. That was a good shaft."
The lady put both hands on her hips and said with a smile, "I hope you still feel it was worth it?"
"Maybe." The man looked up grinning and ruffled the lady's hair with his hand.
"You lug, I'm going to make you the best squash pie you ever had when we get to Eric's."
"It was worth it then. Look here's the answer. Somebody shot him in the belly with a rifle and never followed up. The poor cat was the victim of a foolish hunter."
"What do you think the time frame was, a week or two?"
"No, maybe three or four weeks. Look how the wound has healed and the scarring progressed. Poor boy, he probably came up here to die near his birth place. At least he won't suffer anymore."
"How's Elizabeth?" The lady was looking over the dog that first jumped onto the lion. That was the dog with a long scratch on one shoulder.
The man said, "Oh, Elizabeth's just fine. She always has to be the first one into a scrap. Why she can't let the younger dogs go first I'll never understand. I checked her already. She's fine."
The lady was looking at the wound on the dog and then stepped back to watch her walk. "Come on Elizabeth, good girl, did you save Mommy?"
"How's the little girl, Annie?"
"Good, I think. She must be Eric's granddaughter. That little llama with her saved my life. He ran right into the cougar and bumped him over. Broke his charge ten feet from where I was standing."
The man was looking at Moche now, "Was he spooked?"
"I don't think so. He had enough sense to get out of the way after he did it. I think that's one special llama."
They came over to us now. The two people and their four dogs that looked like Max and Olin. The lady had put her knife away into a loop on the side of her belt. It wasn't a sheath like Grandfather's knives have, just a thick leather loop.
"Hi, I'm Annie and this big shaggy thing is Jack."
I guess I just looked at them all for a few seconds. Then I said, "Your dogs look just like Max and Olin. Did you get them from us?"
The lady said, "Sort of, Elizabeth is Olin's mother and everybody is related to Max in one way or another. That's a long story though and we'll tell it later. Would you like Jack to carry you?"
"No, I'm ok. I was going to look at some of my sea shells. Would you like one?"
"Well now, that's about the one thing old Jack here has never given to me. You let me have one, not your best one, and we'll be square."
I felt a lot better after I had given Annie one of my sea shells. Then I talked and talked all the way back to Grandfather's cave.
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