The Stranger in the Forest

A strange deer has come into Bambi's forest. Who is he? What does he want. Why does he not even have a name and just how does he know all about Man? He is big, he is powerful, and he is unlike any deer in the herd. With what this deer knows, he may save or doom all the deer in the herd.

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7. The Season

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE SEASON

 

They hid behind some trees near where he had talked to the bear. Just before dark, the noise in the forest stopped. New noise started from where the Man caves were. Again, the noises were loud and sounded like Men shouting the same thing at the same time. It was Man making merry again. Soon afterwards another reminder of Man’s presence came to their noses. There came from the meadow an overpowering stink of burning deer. The odor made them both almost sick. Only when it was completely dark did they slowly made their way back to their resting place.

As they walked, he noticed that the scent from Claris was getting more powerful. He could feel his body start to stiffen. He found his attention being focused more and more on Claris and not on what was going on around him. He had felt this before with the other doe, but never at this intensity. By the time they returned to their resting place, he was sniffing near her tail often, yet she still had no interest in him. She had not said a word on their journey back.  It was getting near the rising of the greater light. They met no deer, but he clearly smelled their strong scent. He was not the slightest bit interested in any other creatures of the forest. Claris just lay down in the grass. He felt ready to burst inside him. He also felt the inward pressure from the rear. He got up and moved away and emptied himself. He started back and thought he heard a cry from Claris. He turned and rushed back. At once there was the scent of another deer. He ran back to where they lay before. There was a large male deer holding Claris down on the ground with his rack. He could see some bleeding from her side. It was Kragus.

Kragus looked up. “Not so powerful are you,” he sneered. “Not after I kill your doe.”

He said nothing and charged. All the pressure and stiffness inside his body vanished. In an instant, all that energy and desire was refocused into one overwhelming compulsion: he wanted to tear Kragus to pieces. His vision tuned red; his body felt like it had blown up to twice its size.  His swift attacked surprised Kragus who only managed to get his head up and turned his body to face his charge.

The impact felt like he had run into a tree. The sound seemed louder than even the Man animals. His vision shook and his head ached, but Kragus flew back several lengths. He lowered his head again and charged him.  This time Kragus managed to run a few steps toward him. The impact was even more deafening. He felt himself stopped in place stunned. Again Kragus was thrown back hard.

“No strange fighting this time,” Kragus said almost out of breath.

“I do not need it this time,” he said deliberately.

A voice from inside him told him to be careful. Kragus was strong, and not without skill. He had to think through his rage. Yes Kragus was strong, but all he knew was charge and force his opponent to the ground. He backed up opening the distance. Then he lowered his head looking to make a massive charge at him. Kragus smiled because he felt in he was going to make the mistake of turning this fight into a test of strength. That was a fight Kragus knew how to win so he have an advantage. He charged and ran several steps. Kragus did likewise. The large male vaulted forward at him only he stopped short and jumped aside planting his front legs in the ground. This time he did not try and trip Kragus, the deer would be expecting that. Instead he turned and kicked out hard with his rear hoofs. He was not going for his flank this time. Kragus knew about that trick too and already started to turn away. He went straight for his head. His right hind foot hit him solidly in the side of his head, just behind his rack. He felt the impact of his hoof. He spun around quickly looking to meet a new charge, but Kragus lunched forward and crashed onto the ground and lay still. He immediately turned back to Claris who was just getting up. He looked at the wound on her side. It was not serious, Kragus had only cut her. Still it enraged him even more.

“I thought it was you,” she said whimpering. “I never smelled him. My nose was filled only with your scent. He knocked me down and rubbed his rack against my side cutting me. He said he was going to kill me.”

He walked over to the down deer that was only now starting to stir. He bent over and put his two center rack points directly against his throat. “You hurt her, now I am going to kill you,” he bellowed out not caring if the whole forest heard him.

“Kill me, yes, kill me,” Kragus gasped. Be like the Man you lived with. You think you are so mighty because you are friends with Bambi and Faline. You are nothing, just another strange deer that that spends time with that useless doe you have.”

He thought he actually heard the deer start to laugh. “You said hurt her. I was not going to hurt her. I was only going to force her down so I could breed her. I wanted to put my fawn in her, not yours, and then in the spring, kill them both. I hate you, I hate her, and I hate Bambi. I should be herd leader here,” he yelled out. “I should be leader because I am a deer, not a nameless wanderer, or some worthless male that pours out his boring, useless, wisdom like a running stream. You are all worthless. I am only sorry Man and his dogs did not kill you all last night when I tried to wake them.”

“You ran across the field,” he realized. His felt his anger building more in his body. He looked at Claris and in that moment he realized she would never be safe with Kragus around.

“Claris leave,” he ordered. “Go into the forest, I will join you later.”

“No,” she said, “I want to stay…….”

“LEAVE!” he shouted at her, “go now.”

Claris looked stunned he would raise his voice at her but slowly she backed away and moved deeper into the forest. He now looked down at his fallen enemy below. His eyes must have given him away because suddenly Kragus started to shake. “You really are going to be like Man. You really are going to kill me.”

Kragus was right. He was going to kill him. He felt his rage build up in his body. He put his two large center points against his throat. All it would take is one lunge and Kragus would die gurgling in his own blood. He deserved nothing better. He started to push his point into the soft flesh when he heard Claris called from behind him to stop. He didn’t care. All he wanted was this deer’s blood on his racks and he was going to have it now.

“Die!” he said grimly.

 “Stranger, NO!” Claris yelled out from behind. “Please do not do this. Think what Bambi would say. Think about what it will do to us.”

He stopped and breathed in deeply. He was breathing as hard as if he just ran across the entire forest.  His two center points were already pressed in, he saw a trickle of blood. He smelled Claris come up from behind, “Please,” she begged him.

Her voice rang in his head cutting through the rage he felt at this down deer below him. He stopped. He didn’t lung forward killing Kragus. Instead he pulled back slightly and slashed him with his rack opening several gashes along the side of Kragus. ”DAHHHHHHHHHHH,” Kragus screamed in horror.

He pulled back being careful not to give Kragus room to lunge at him. “Get up,” he ordered.

He watched the large deer get up slowly and wobble on his legs like a new fawn. It took him a while to steady himself on his feet. Besides bleeding from his flank and neck, he was also bleeding from the side of his head where he kicked him. After he was sure he had gotten back enough sense to understand him he walked up and pushed his face into Kragus’; his eyes glaring through him.

“Leave the forest,” he ordered. “Go over the hill to the next forest and live there. If I ever see you or smell you again, you are dead.”

With that he shoved Kragus back and turned away and started back to Claris. He managed to walk three steps before he saw a sudden look of shock on Claris’s face. He expected as much. He spun around quickly his rack out forward. Sure enough Kragus tried to charge his unprotected rear. The attack was clumsy and weak, but against his unprotected rear quarters, it would be effective. Instead, all Kragus hit was his rack which he bounced off. All restraint in him vanished. He lowered his head and pushed forward with all of his might. Kragus went flying away from him. The big deer landed a full length away and rolled. He got up faster and looked at him. For the first time he saw real fear in Kragus’ eyes. Kragus could see in him exactly what he was going to do. Kragus understood the only way to finish this fight now was death for one of them.  The brown eyes went wide and Kragus spun around and fled as fast as he could.  He chased him looking to run him down. He would chase him out of the forest if he had to.

Kragus bounded away from him, leaving a trail of blood he could smell. It only intensified his desire to kill the large deer. He kept his head lowered just in case Kragus stopped and tried to attack again. They both ran blindly. In the background he thought he heard Claris calling loudly. He did not hear what she said and did not care anymore. Kragus was leaving the forest as a corpse.

Kragus fled out of fear and he chased him out of rage. They both ran blindly with him trying to catch the fleeing deer. He continued to chase him, not caring where he went. It did not matter to him, he chase that deer into Bambi’s old forest if he had to as long as he could catch him and rip open his guts. He thought he smelled another deer close up. It did not matter. All he felt was rage at this deer. He chased him on through the trees. Then he heard a familiar voice call scream at him from behind.

“STOP! the meadow,” it sounded like Bambi.

That brought him out of his anger. He saw he was about to run into the open meadow.  He locked all four feet and skidded along the ground trying to stop while he was still in the trees. Kragus just kept running and bounded into the clearing. He lost his balance and hit a tree with his flank. That stopped him. He felt a deep pain in his side, but he was still several lengths inside the forest. He watched Kragus run across the meadow still fleeing for his life. He got almost to the other side when he heard it.

“BLAMMM,” came the noise. He saw Kragus’ feet fly out from under him sending him sprawling onto the ground. The big deer didn’t move for a second and then he tried to get up.

“BLAMMM,” came the noise again. This time Kragus looked like he was pushed over on his side like he’d just been hit by another large deer. Kragus went flat on the ground and did not move after that. He slowly got up, untangled himself from the tree and as quietly as possible sneaked back into the safety of the forest.

He was still breathing hard when he got back to where Claris was, he was surprised to see Bambi standing there with Faline.

“Kragus is dead?” Bambi asked.

He nodded. “He ran into the meadow and Man killed him. I am sorry; I did not want to see him die like that.”

“I know” Bambi said. “Many in the herd will not like this”

Then he told both of them of what happen and everything Kragus had told him. “He wanted me dead, Claris dead, and you dead,” he said directly to Bambi.  He then turned to Claris. “I am sorry I yelled at you,” he said bowing his head in shame. “Thank you for stopping me from killing Kragus,” he said and nuzzled her gently before turning back to Bambi and Faline. “Thank you for stopping me or I’d be as dead as Kragus right now.”

“Many in the herd will blame you for his death,” Bambi said shaking his head.

That made him angry again. He glared at both Bambi and Faline. “If either of you, or the entire forest, wants to hate me for this, then go right ahead. But know this; I was not going to let that worthless male kill the deer I care about, nor the friends that I care about. I am not going to give up the things that make me glad to live in this forest.  I will not lose that to Kragus,” he said and walked away from them.

He walked past the stream and up the hill toward some tall trees. He could not stay there next to Bambi and Faline anymore. He felt too angry and disgusted that others would blame him for Kargus’ death. He heard some rapid hoofs run along the ground behind him. Claris moved past him and then got in front of him to make him stop. She flashed her green eyes and looked straight into his eyes.

“Thank you,” she said almost in a whisper.

He said nothing but moved forward and rubbed his long nose against hers and licked the side of her face. Then he told her in a soft whispered tone, “I want you more than anything in my life and no one is going to change that.”

She broke off and turned around and walked away. Immediately he was flooded by her scent and now a new odor; the smell of a doe ready to breed. “Come with me,” she said and walked slowly back the way they came. Both Bambi and Faline had vanished back into the forest, he did not care where.

He followed her closely sniffing at her tail that she filled with her scent. She walked until they came to the thicket where they had been sleeping. The bushes and trees were filled with their scents intensifying his feelings. Claris walked in and then stopped. She did not lie down this time, but instead stood, hunched her back, and raised her tail. It was an invitation to mount her. He climbed on top of her as his body felt like it would explode outward.

For the next two days they did little but eat, sleep, and breed. As they lay next to each other they said little, but he felt for the first time in his life true desire. He had bred doe before, but never like this. This doe wanted him for something other than making a strong fawn. This doe wanted him because he was him. He felt Claris was as happy and as content with him as he was with her. The memory of Kragus was distant and fading fast. His only focus was on this doe. From time to time he heard more loud noises at the meadow, but that was someone else’s problem. He had all he needed. Those two days passed in a blur. All he knew was he was happier now than he had ever been before.

On the third day he felt the inner drive of the Season fade. He had done what he wanted to do. Claris, while still affectionate, made no further attempt to couple with him again. She too was finished with The Season. As they left the thicket they both marked the place as belonging to them. They walked until they found some grass and water and ate and drank their fill. He could smell other deer in the forest. It was time for the herd to come together again.

The first deer they found was Ronno, only he was not alone. He had a doe with him. A young doe having her first breeding season after her first winter. Her name was Marol. They were together and looked happy. He approached them, but they both moved quickly away from him.

“I want you and Claris to stay away from me and Marol,” Ronno told him flatly.

He stood there stunned. “Why” was all he could say?

“You killed Kragus,” Ronno said looking at him with an intense look of anger and some fear. “It was unnecessary. I do not want anything to do with either of you.”

What did this deer know? He was not there. “He was trying to kill Claris,” he answered back as forcefully.

“I do not believe that, Stranger,” Ronno said and then he and Marol turned their backs on them and walk quickly away.

 He did not go after them. He looked back at Claris who looked at him in silence. Ronno and Marol were the first. They turned and saw Durus walking alone. Duris saw them and immediately turn his back on them and walked away. Others on the meadow did the same.

Over the next few days none of the herd deer would talk to them. The deer moved away as soon as they saw them. Some ran away in a hurry, without saying a word as if afraid of them. All the deer looked to avoid them. What had happened had become known to all the others in the forest. The entire herd made it clear that they were unwelcomed in the forest. It was worse than when he first came here. Then they were just ignored them. Now the other deer looked almost hostile. It was clear that both of them were considered outcasts by the herd. On the meadow they ate alone, even Bambi and Faline ignored them.

They walked through the forest eating the grass, tying to put on as much weight before winter snow came. The air was chilly. They were alone.  It was night they came back to the old Oak tree. In the branches the old owl looked at them silently and sternly.

“Hello, Friend Owl,” Claris greeted him as before.

“I heard what happened, Stranger, the owl shrieked. “I understand what you did, but I do not like how it was done. I am sorry but I think you both should leave the forest now. No one wants you two here any longer.” With that the Old Owl turned his back on them and flew off.

“Oh,” Claris said and dropped her head. “Him too,” she muttered.

“Him and others,” he heard a voice call out. He looked up and saw Bambi. He was alone. “The others in the herd do not want either of you around anymore. They say Stranger, you murdered Kragus by making him flee onto the meadow where you knew he be killed.”

“You did not tell them what Kragus tried to do to Claris?” he asked.

“Yes, I told them,” Bambi said. “Some did not believe your words. Most did not care. They tell me you should not have chased Kragus onto the meadow to be killed. You should have beaten him and let him run away.”

“So I should have let Kragus kill Claris another day?” he said starting to let the anger in his voice rise.

“Most think that was just talk from Kragus. All think he would never have done it,” Bambi said.

“And the cuts on her side was Kragus’ idea of fawn play?” he said loudly.

“Again, the others in the herd say Kragus was not serious, and to many, that makes you a killer. Bambi was not getting mad. He tried to calm himself. After all Bambi was the herd leader.

“Anything else,” he said.

Bambi nodded and dropped his head. “Yes, the senior males have told me they want you two gone from the forest. They asked me to chase you out.”

“No,” Claris pleaded. “I was born here. This is my home.”

“Yes, but the deer will no longer accept you anymore,” Bambi said. “I am sorry, but you are both no longer welcomed at my cave. You will need to leave the forest.”

“You are going to chase us out at the start of winter?” he told him bitterly. “We would both die in the hills during winter. You know that. No, Bambi, I am not going and neither is Claris. Not this time. Do not try and chase us out. You tell the others they better not try and run us off the meadow. I will fight you or anyone else who tries it.  And if I have to kill someone to stop them, I will.”

“I know!” Bambi yelled. “If I do not try and chase you out, then I will look weak before many of the others. I will no longer be herd leader. If I try and chase you out, then we will fight, and I am not sure who would win. I am sure the loser will likely be dead and the winner will not be in much better shape.”

He stopped and hung his head. Bambi was right, come or go, there was only pain ahead for all of them.  “Look,” he said regaining his calm. “I am not taking Claris out of the forest during winter. I will also not allow myself or Claris to be chased out of the forest. In the spring, after our fawn comes, and it becomes strong enough, we will go over the hill. There is another herd there.”

“I will see if that will do,” Bambi said, “But many want you gone now.”

“That is the most I will offer,” he told the large deer. “The others will just have to put up with us until then.”

Bambi just shook his head. “I do not know,” Bambi said. “I will talk to the senior males.” With that the herd leader walked back toward his cave.

He watched him go and turned to face Claris, who said nothing, but tears flowed down her eyes.

There was a way he knew, a way that Claris could stay. “Look, if I go now, the others will not throw you out,” he said his voice choking up. “They will allow you to stay. The Season is over and you can live near Bambi and Faline. By myself I can survive in the hills. You can live here in the forest. In the spring I will come back after the fawn comes and then take you both out of here. If I stay, the herd may force Bambi to fight me. He is strong and I do not know if I can beat him. He is most likely right when he says the loser of that fight would be dead and the winner will be as good as dead. I do not want to fight that deer unless I have too.”

“NO!,” she said. “I go with you. I will always go with you. You are the only thing in this forest that makes me want to live here.”

His chest tightened. He gently put his face into the smooth warm fur along Claris’ flank and wept in frustration.

 

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