The Stranger: Taking Charge

The second story regarding the Stranger. Now Man has come to live in the forest. This pushes the deer into a making a terrible choice. That choice will affect the lives all all those in the forest for years to come. New friends and new enemies will appear resulting in great triumphs and heartbreaking tragedies. It will force new responsibilities onto Stranger that he did not plan on nor want. All of this, plus a growing family, will tax even the skills of the Stranger.

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7. Conversations in the Dark

 

 

They returned to their homes, but Man was not there. However, the remains of Man lingered by Bambi's cave. There was blood on the ground from both the dogs and from Bambi. There was the putrid scent of Man filling the air around them. Finally there was the burnt smell of the killing sticks. Man had been there, but had taken his dogs and left. He walked over and saw a large slit dug into the dirt where the killing stick had hit behind him tearing the ground open. If he hadn't moved quickly, that would have been him.

“Come here,” he said to the fawns. They all gathered around him looking at the opening in the ground. “That is what a killing stick does,” he told them. “If it hits you, can you see what would happen?”

“It tear us to pieces,” Gerta said.

“Come look at this,” Bambi said from behind the rock outcropping of his small cave. All of them walked over. A few lengths into the forest they came to a large tree that had a gaping hole in it. It was wider than his leg. He could see the sap running into the opening. Again there was the burnt odor of the killing stick still present in the air.

“This is where Man used his killing stick again, and this is what it did,” Bambi told them. “Think what it will do to one of us.”

“It kills us in an instant,” Balo spoke up for one of the few times he had ever heard him talk without being asked a question.

“Yes,” Bambi said. “It would kill one of us in an instant.”

“Man used his killing stick twice on you and Bambi?” Stena asked him.

“Yes,” he answered.

“How did you live?” she asked. “I did not think Man missed with his killing sticks.”

He wondered about that himself. Were they lucky, or was what he heard from herd leader Hilgass in his last forest correct? “Remember what I said to you before, if you must run from Man, never run in a straight line and turn quickly several times as you run?”

The fawns nodded.

“That is what Bambi and I did and Man did not hit us. However, I do not think that will work all the time. I will admit to you, we were lucky.”

“You were both very lucky,” Claris said as they walked back to their thicket. “You were also both very brave to protect us.” She then kissed him openly in front of the others. Faline did the same with Bambi. The warm intense feeling inside his body made him feel it was almost worth it. When they both went back to their thicket they were alone. Stena, Gerta, and Balo had going back to the clearing to talk to the other fawns.

He snuggled in closer to her, the warm feeling and the desire to breed Claris only increased, but she was not yet ready. Instead she talked to him some more. “You want a male or a doe this time.”

“I like a son,” he said. “I am getting old enough where I have to admit that I will be herd leader here for only a few more seasons before I get too old. I like to have a son who can take my place when the time comes.”

He saw her face darken. Claris never liked to think that one day they would all die and pass from here. He had seen so much death before that he knew better. He had always felt whether by some Man killing him, or a bear or some other animal killing him, or dying from disease or sickness during winter, or some deer finally beating him and killing him; sooner or later he was going to die. That death would likely be violent and painful. If he was real lucky, or smart, he might get to die of old age like Bambi’s father did. He was actually surprised he ever made it this long, but he had.

“We shall see,” was all Claris said and then she changed the subject. “You know Stena has asked me a lot of questions about The Season. She wanted to know what I feel during The Season. She wants to know if she would feel the same thing.”

“A bit young for that,” he said.

“Not really,” Claris told him. “I felt an attachment for an older male when I was a fawn, but it vanished. He had another older doe and was not the slightest bit interested in me. She will feel The Season, just not as much as when she is fully grown next time."

“Why, does she feel an attachment for a male?” he wanted to know.

Claris rubbed his neck again with her muzzle “She said she likes to be with Balo, but he is too young to understand.”

That was the first time he heard about that. First Stabo and Gena and now Stena and Balo; his family and Bambi’s family seem to be getting joined together.  Of the three fawns here Stena was clearly the cleverest. She seemed to understand at once what the other two only could see only after careful teaching. “We will have to watch that next Season,” he said. “In the meantime I know a doe that is not too young and understands fine what happens during The Season.”

All Claris could do is smile and continue rubbing his neck.

The next two days the males finished scrapping the velvet off their antlers. It did not feel as hard to do as last year. When they were done, Jolo, Bambi, and him had nice large racks. The doe also starting to emit that scent letting them all know the time of The Season was near. He also started again to feel uncomfortable around Bambi and Jolo, but the feeling was not as strong as last year when he and Bambi almost came to blows. When the last of the velvet was gone, he knew it was close to the time to say goodbye until after The Season.

The next morning there was more banging noises from the meadow. The noise went on all day. There was no shouting and no killing sticks. It sounded like Man was doing something, but he had no idea what. He waiting until near when the greater light had almost set before he left on his own for his viewing spot.  He decided to do this himself. He still felt uncomfortable around Bambi and Jolo and thought going alone might be better for all. He got about halfway to the viewing area when he heard a slight noise behind him. The wind was blowing in his face, he could not smell anything behind him. He hid behind some trees and waited. A short while later a young doe came past him making almost no noise. It was Stena.

"What are you doing here?" he called to her.

Stena  did not look startled. "You did not say I could not come with you. Besides, I wanted to see if I was quiet enough to sneak up on you. The wind was in my face so I knew you could not smell me."

He smiled openly. "Very good, you are learning," he told her.

"Are you going to the seeing place because of the noise on the meadow today?" Stena asked.

"Yes," he said and was happy she had worked that out.

"Can I come with you?" she asked.

"Yes,  if you remain quiet. We must not be seen or heard. I did not hear any dogs, but that does not mean Man cannot hear us."

"I understand, I will follow you," Stena said with a large grin. Again she was being treated like a big deer.

They got to the viewing place just before dark and looked out over the meadow. It was dark. There were no lights on the meadow near the large Man cave. There was enough light that he could see several smaller Man caves at the far end of the meadow that were not there before. That is what the noise was about. Man was putting up more Man caves. That meant the hunts would start soon.

"Father, those Man caves were not there before," Stena also noticed.

"Yes daughter, it means Man will soon be here to kill deer," he told her.

She looked up at him with fear in her eyes. "I am afraid, Father."

"I know," he said in a low voice. "I am afraid too," he told her. "We need to tell the others. There will be no hunt tomorrow or Man would be there tonight. We have some time."

It was then he heard the branches break near him under some weight. He smelled the fur and fat. It was the bear. How did he know he was here?

"Is that your friend bear?" Stena asked.

He nodded at the familiar scent."Yes, but if I say run you  run as fast as you can back to your mother,"

"Yes, Father," she said and stood near him.

"I am here my friend," he called out.

Away from them he heard a low growling voice. "Who is with you. Does not smell like your Son."

"It is my young daughter, Stena. Stabo went to live in the Man path forest with Bambi's son Veron and some of our herd."

With that the bear walked into their looking area and stopped a few length from them. Stena looked out from behind him. "Greetings, Bear," she said in a hesitating voice.

"Greetings, young Stena," the bear growled. "With all the activity on the Meadow, I thought you might be here. I wanted to say thank you for warning me and Urina about the hunters. They came after us the next day, but we were gone."

"I know," he told him. "When they did not find you, they went after Bambi and me. It is a long story. The main thing now is that it looks like many Men will be here soon to hunt. They will hunt mostly deer, but if they should find you."

"They will kill me too," the bear said. "It is time we all fled deep into the forest. "

"Yes, the herd will break up soon for The Season anyway," he said.

"We bear already had our Season. Urina will bear my cubs again," the bear said. "Tell me little Stena, are you afraid of me?"

Stena swallowed hard. ' Yes, I am," she said. "You are big and I am small. You could easily eat me."

"Smart like your brother,"  the bear said.

Stena smiled and then walked out from behind him. She looked the bear over closely. "I see why you and my Father like each other."

That surprised both of them. "Why is that?" the bear asked.

"Although you are a bear and we are deer, you and my Father are alike. Just like my Father and Bambi. They are alike too and they like each other."

He saw the bear smile again just like with Stabo. "Very good,  young deer. You are clever. Stay well. I have to go and find someplace Man will not hunt me."

"Goodbye," Stena and he said together and they all went their separate ways.

When they got back to the thicket, Stena could not wait to tell the others she met the bear. Claris was less than pleased with him that night.

 The banging noise continued the next day and then stopped. By now the scents from the females were getting stronger. He was going to take Claris away the next night and send the fawns away to the clearing. His plan didn't work out as he thought.

He was awoken soon after he fell asleep in the morning when he heard a noise coming from the base of the hill. It sounded like another deer, but why would a deer be so close to the meadow during daylight with Man around. The noise got louder. This deer was in a hurry. He got up and walked into the small clearing. Bambi was also coming out of his cave.

“Ho,” he heard from the bottom of the hill. He knew the voice, it was Sinno again. The four-year old male was running up to meet them. He looked almost exhausted. He ran into the small opening near Bambi’s cave. Something was obviously bothering him. Behind Sinno walked  Jolo along with Gurri and Balo.

“Sinno, what is wrong?” Bambi asked. He and Jolo were standing near him now.

The senior male was exhausted, yet there was something else. The brown eyes were full of fear.

Sinno looked at him. “Stranger there is another deer in the forest,” he gasped. “He does not belong to this herd. I saw him in the forest near where the stream to the old forest comes into the meadow. He came over and knocked me down. He said he kill me if I did not tell him where the herd leader was. He also asked about Gurri. Then he let me up and walk away. I ran here to tell you.”

“Someone comes,” Jolo said looking down the hill. “Some deer I do not know. He is big.”

“And you led him right to us,” he said out loud. “You are a fool Sinno. Leave now, this is my problem,” he said not trying to hide his anger at Sinno's stupidity.

The four-year old turned and bounded away like dogs were on his tail. He watched as a large rack came up the hill. There was a large deer that went with the rack. That deer was the same size as he was. He walked like a herd leader and seemed to take no notice any of them were here. As he got closer, Gurri called out. “Krono, he is one of the lead males in Geno’s herd.”

The big male walked into the middle of the clearing with the rest of  them. The male walked with his head up high showing he was unafraid of them there . He walked into his clearing like he already owned it. He looked around at all of them.

“I am Krono,” he said with an air of command. “I knew that fool lead me to you all. Allow me to introduce myself. I am the new herd leader here. Geno the herd leader in the old forest sent me over to take over leadership in the forest.”

“Is that so,” he said. “Well you can go back to Geno and tell him I am herd leader here and you and him can take a long walk on the meadow for all I care.”

The new comer did not blink an eye. “Well then I will just have to kill you,” he said and lowered his head as he did he looked to the side and saw Gurri and the others and stopped. “I see Gurri there and with the old beaten deer Bambi,” he said. “Geno asked me to breed with Gurri and run Bambi off. I will do that after I kill you and the male she is with,” he said and lower his head again.

This was going to be a big fight. He lowered his head. This deer was big and strong, but was he smart? He did not think so. He was about to try a fake charge on him when he heard.”

“Not this time!” Bambi growled as loud as his bear friend and in an instant flew past him straight at Krono. Krono took his eyes on him and went to meet Bambi's charge. He wondered what Bambi was doing. As herd leader, he was responsible to deal with this. As Bambi flew by him, he got a look at his face. He had never seen rage on the face of that deer. It was there now.

Krono shifted his weight and went to meet him, but Bambi got under his rack and lifted his head as he crashed into him. The noise was like a killing stick going off.  Bambi stood there, as steady as the rocks in his cave. Krono went flying backward at least three lengths. Krono got his legs under him and got up. Bambi flew at him again. This time Krono also charged at him. They met with a terrible crash. Both looked stunned, but Bambi recovered first.  He dropped his head again and pushed hard on Krono pushing him back. Krono dug in his back legs and pushed Bambi back and Krono went to get under Bambi's rack and lift the big deer off the ground. He was only able to move the huge deer a bit before Bambi brought his rack down on top of Krono smashing his head onto the ground.

In a second Bambi pulled back and then kicked out with both front hoofs  smashing Krono's face. That stunned the big deer. In that moment. Bambi lowered his head got under Krono and picked the big deer up almost flipping him over. He went crashing against a tree. Bambi was on him in an instant pounding him on this flank with his front hoofs.

“Beaten old deer,” Bambi growled again and stomped on Krono.

“Breed my daughter,” Bambi yelled and stomped on Krono again.

“Kill my friends,” Bambi yelled a third time and stomped even harder. This time he could hear a cracking sounds from inside Krono.

“Bambi stop!” Faline called out. “He is beaten.”

Bambi turned quickly to face them; the normally dark piercing black eyes were flushed with red. For the first time since he had known him, Bambi looked ready to kill.

“No my Friend,” he called out. “You have won.”

Bambi turned back to Krono who was still lying on the ground fighting for air. He could see a light trickle of blood from the down deer's forehead and coming out of his mouth. He thought for a moment Bambi was going to start stomping him again, but instead he lowered his rack and slashed the side of the big male along his flank.

“AAAAHHHHHHHHH,” screamed Krono

Bambi did not cut deeply enough to gut Krono, but he did gash him badly. Krono would have scars there for the rest of his life.  After that he went limp on the ground.

“GET UP!” Bambi yelled and just about lifted the deer back onto his feet with his rack.  Krono was as wobbly as a new fawn on his feet and he looked to be out of his head. Bambi hit Krono hard across the face with his hoof to knock some sense back into him. Then Bambi looked deeply into Krono’s eyes with his black and red eyes. It reminded him of the bear getting ready to eat.

“Leave!” Bambi told him. “Do not come back here. If I see you, smell you, or even hear you again, I will kill you myself without warning. You tell my son that he is no leader here. We have our own herd leader, and Gurri has her own mate. Geno gets to say nothing about this. If he wants to come back to see how his old beaten father is doing, tell him his father is still strong enough to pound you into the dirt. Now go, before I kill you.”

Krono staggered away. As a help Bambi kicked him in the tail to hurry him along on his way. Then he turned around and looked back at all of them. He was breathing hard and still looked ready to gut any deer that approached him. Bambi started to walk toward them, but stopped. It was only then he realized what he had done. He stood up straight and closed his eyes realizing he had broken the rules for the herd by fighting Krono. He walked timidly up to them and lowered his head in shame.

“I am sorry.” he said almost in a moan. “I lost my temper. Krono came to challenge you for herd leader and challenge Jolo for Gurri. I should have let you both handle him, but he got me so mad I lost my head. I am sorry,” he repeated and started to walk away.

“Stop, my friend,” he said and walked up to him and gently lifted his head with his own rack. He looked at Bambi with a large smile on his face. He should be angry, but he saw that his friend  had simply been pushed too far by his son. After what Bambi had gone through, he could understand that.

He looked closely in to those black piercing eyes, still with a bit of red color in them. “Geno needed to be sent a message, it is only right his father send it to him. You owe me no apology. In fact you have my thanks.” With that he rubbed his forehead with his nose.

Then Gurri had walked up to her father and licked the side of his face like a fawn would. “Thank you, Father.” she said.

He then turned to look at the three fawns all standing together with their mouths gaping open yet speechless. None of them had even seen a hard deer fight before and it suddenly dawned on them exactly what it meant.  “Listen to me,” he said not as their father or friend, but as the herd leader. He was hash and direct. “Sometimes you have to fight to do the right thing. What Bambi did was wrong because Krono came to challenge me and Jolo. However since Geno, Bambi’s son, sent Krono, it was only right that Bambi should send him back. For this reason Bambi did nothing wrong."

The fawns still looked to be in shock.  He continued, “I told you before when the herd broke up for The Season, I wanted you and the other fawns to live in the clearing until The Season was over. I want you to go there now. The rest of this year’s fawns will join you soon. I will call them. You watch them and  run if Man comes near. We are close to the time when Man will come to our forest to kill deer. I do not want any of you near the meadow now.”

“Should we call, if Man comes near,” Stena asked.

“No, do not call, just run toward a place where you do not hear or smell Man. Wait there until well after dark. It will be up to you three to keep the others safe. Can you do this?”

All three nodded understanding if somewhat reluctantly. Stena looked ready for this, the others he was not sure about.

“Good, now leave,” he said and watched them all walk up the stream. When they were gone he dropped his air of authority.

With that he took a deep breath and made a long deep call to the forest. "FFFAAAWWW NNNSSS,” he bellowed three times. That should keep them safe. The others were on their own.

“I will see the rest of you after The Season,” he told them all and looked back at Claris who was beaming. “Come, Claris,” he said and they both walk toward the bedding area they marked as belonging to them during The Season.

“After The Season,” Jolo repeated and he and Gurri walked away down the hill. He knew Bambi and Faline stayed near their cave at all times.

They found their bedding area and cleaned it and made it comfortable for the next few days. It was under some very old oak trees near the Old Owl’s tree. By the time they were done it was getting near nightfall. It had been an eventful day. They both got up and ate some leaves near their bedding area. Although the scent coming from Claris was very strong, it was still not the scent of a doe ready to breed.

“I thought Bambi would kill Krono,” Claris said standing there. “I have never seen him that angry.”

“Nor have I,” he answered. “If he had killed him, I don’t think I would have minded. When a deer comes up to you and says he is going to kill you,  the only way to stop him is to kill him or beat him so badly he is almost dead. That deer was strong, but I sure I could have taken him. He was not smart. He made that fight into a test of strength like Kragus did. Bambi used position against him and easily won, but he could have done other things. I think he was so enraged he didn’t think about what he had learned. That is bad. You must always think. It is the only thing that keeps us alive.”

“For which I am very happy,” she said with those green eyes sparkling.

He went over and kissed her like he had in the old days with passion and affection. She returned the kiss and again both of them knew why they had chosen life’s path together. He was convinced Bambi had been right, they were meant to be together.  They spent the night playing like fawns again, chasing each other around and jumping on each other. It was a pleasant release from the tensions he had felt most of this year. It was also one of the few times he could relax without being herd leader. It was morning when they went to sleep. They did not sleep long before Claris got up.

She looked down at him eyes beaming. “I think we will try to have that son you wanted” she said softly and turned away from him. Her scent drove him up. She was now a doe ready to breed. He sniffed at her tale and he felt the pressure build up inside until he felt ready to explode.  Claris raised her tail and hunched her back ready to receive him. He complied with vigor as that pressure exploded out of him as it had done before.

 

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