The Stranger: Visitations

In the fourth story in this series, Stranger seems to be finally getting his life on track. Then he is visited by friends and enemies from his past that will cause him much happiness and much pain. New tragedies will test even his great strength. Add to this the fact that old age is finally catching up with him. All of these problems will force Stranger to turn to new and old sources for help to cope with a world seemingly spinning out of control.

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6. Intruders

 

 

It was a high summer evening when they all heard it. It was just after the greater light sat when the loud sound came from the Man path forest. A loud call from a male. He recognized the voice immediately as Stabo’s. So did the others standing next to him. He turned to Balo and Gorro standing there.

“It has come,” he said with resignation, “As I expected it would. Neither of you have to go with me. There will be hard fighting here. We are going to have to beat these deer badly for them to stop bothering us.”

“I will go,” Balo said. “If we do not beat them now, they will surely come here next.”

“That is my brother they wish to hurt,” Gorro told him. “I know Father would not stop and neither will I.”

He looked back at the doe standing in the forest with the fawns. “You must all stay here,” he told them. "No questions this time."

There were concerned looks but no comments. They moved quickly toward their prearranged spot. They crossed the open space between their forest and the Man-path forest quickly and without incident. Once inside the Man-path forest they traveled to the clearing near the edge of the forest. Veron and Stabo were already there along with Gena, Alana, Young Bambi, Young Claris and the fawns.

“You all go over to my forest by the pond,” he told them. “You know the way. “Wait there for us.”

Gena nodded and lead the way. Alana was hesitant, but said nothing and followed. He waited until they were well on their way toward his forest before he looked around.

“Stabo, how many are there?” he needed to know.

“I saw the one we beat the last time and several more. There is one deer as big as you, Father.”

“I know that one. Where are they now?” he asked.

“I saw a few of them going out to round up my herd and bring them to Razor,” Veron told him.

He thought for a second. They would be in several groups group then. That would work in their favor.

“Look, if we try and fight them together, we will lose because there are more of them than us. What I want to do is to find them in small groups so there will be more of us than them. If we can destroy them in small numbers, we will win. Do you understand?”

The four others nodded. “One other thing, they have come here to kill Veron and Stabo and will kill us too if they get the chance. This is no practice fight. We are not just going to have to hurt these deer, we will have to kill them. As Bambi said with Tarro, it is the only way to stop them from ever coming back. Otherwise if we just run them off, they will be back and may attack our doe and fawns. "We must show them no mercy, because we will not get any from them. If any of you think this is wrong, speak out now."

“I remember when you and father took care of Tarro, ”Gorro said. "You are right, it is the same thing."

“That is correct so we must stay together and find them in small groups. That means we need to go to a place where we can smell them without them smelling us.”

“Wind is coming from the stream that leads to my Father’s forest,” Veron said. “We need to go into this forest away from the meadow where we can walk around to where they are so the wind will blow their scent to us.”

He nodded, that was a good idea. “Very well, let us go and keep quiet,” he told them.

With that they moved noiselessly through the trees. They came across other deer who told them these new deer were trying to gather all the deer in this forest forcing them to come with them. Veron told them to flee deep into the forest and wait for his call. They moved carefully around until they were close to the Man path. There they stopped and waited. By now the greater light was starting to rise bringing light to the forest.

“I can smell several deer,” Stabo said.” A few scents I recognize, but there are two scents I do not.”

That is what he expected. “Very well we walk toward them slowly with the wind in our face. Spread out and keep looking behind you. We do not want them sneaking up on us.”

They walked slowly toward the increasing scents. Stabo and Veron went first because they knew this forest the best. After a while Stabo stopped and motioned all of them to come near him. “I think there are at least two on them in a small clearing up ahead. Veron and I will go forward and look and you stay behind us in case we are attacked. They are expecting to see us, they are not expecting you.”

He had to admit that too was a good idea. He nodded and Stabo and Veron went ahead. He Balo and Gorro followed several lengths behind. As they got closer he could hear voices. There were two males talking to a doe and her fawn.

“You come with us,” he heard a haughty male order the doe. The voice was loud and sounded very sure of himself.

“Who are you,” he heard a doe call out. “You are not Veron.”

“Veron ran away. Razor is now herd leader here. Follow us or we will hurt you and your fawns," the male threaten. By now both Veron and Stabo had gotten there without notice.

“I do not think so,” he heard Veron call out and saw him gallop forward along with Stabo.

 The two of them rushed the clearing and saw the two males from Razor's group putting their heads down and charging forward. As they did both Veron and Stabo stopped, leaped to the side, and quickly turned and brought their legs under the two charging males. They did not expect it and had never seen a move like that before, and were going too fast to stop. Both went flying onto the ground. Both Veron and Stabo rushed forward and kicked out hard with their front hoofs. Veron hit his deer square in the side of the head with both hoofs knocking him senseless to the ground. Stabo missed with one hoof and hit with the other so his deer was only knocked sideways. His was also the biggest deer. Stabo stopped and looked at the deer who was stunned for a moment. Stabo turned quickly and looked to be ready to run away. The big deer thinking he had won started to get to his feet. He could see he was enraged and bolted after Stabo who ran only a few steps. Instead of running on Stabo stopped and kicked out with both rear hoods as the big deer was just getting close to him. Both hoofs hit the deer right on the forehead. The big deer turned almost over his back in the air before hitting the ground. Stabo was on him in a moment stomping him hard with his front hoofs. Verson’s deer wasn’t moving at all. That fight did not last long. Neither of the two dead deer knew very well how to fight.

 He quickly ran forward to look at both deer. He could see Veron’s deer was dead. The impact from both of Veron powerful legs had smashed in the front of his head. He then walked over to Stabo’s deer who was alive but bleeding from the flank and mouth. He would not be getting up again. He looked at Stabo, he could still see the rage in him.

“That was the one who kicked me before,” he said letting his anger clearly show. “Well he will not kick me again.”

He looked around for the doe and fawns that were in the clearing. They had run off when the fight started.

“Some other deer come,” Gorro said quietly.

“Back into the forest with the wind at your face,” he said in a low voice to them all. In an instant they were clear of the meadow. Once hidden in the forest, they stayed close enough to see the clearing They waited for the others who were walking toward them. There were two scents, good. He could hear Veron and Stabo breathing heavily; they were tired. A few seconds later he could hear sticks breaking as two more deer hurried forward and into the clearing. Both were young males, both were Gorro’s size, and both looked healthy and strong. They both almost stumbled onto the bodies lying in the clearing and froze.

They both looked in shock over the two down deer. One let out a call to bring in the others. The other sniffed the ground.  He nodded to both Balo and Gorro these two belonged to them. They both crept forward noiseless until they were just hidden. He bleated loudly to draw the two’s attention and then yelled, “NOW!”

Both Gorro and Balo charged ahead quickly. Before the other two deer could react, they hit both of them in the flank. Both deer went flying forward and hit the ground. Then, just as he and Bambi had taught, they both ran up and instead of trying to hit them while they were on the ground, came up and hit them hard in the faces with their front hoofs. Both again went flying to the side.

“Turn and kick hard,” he said loudly.

Both deer spun around and kicked out as hard as they could with their rear legs. Both of the deer were still stunned from before.  Gorro hit his deer in the neck below his velvet covered antlers.  It tore a gash in his neck that started bleeding like water flowing in a stream. Balo hit forward on the head. He could hear the head of the deer cave in and also blood start to gush out of the side of his face. Gorro’s deer got up and started to run away. With that bleeding he would not get far. Balo’s deer just fell still on the ground. He ran other to him. The male had a shocked look on his face as he died. So far it was all easy. In fact it was much too easy. These four deer had just blundered ahead, no sense, no thinking, just muscle, threats, and nothing more. They were like Tarro was. None of them knew what real fighting was until it was too late.

He looked at the three bodies lying in the small clearing. He pulled back and kept the five of them together. Off in the distance he heard a male call, but it sounded weak, almost feeble, and then stopped suddenly. It would also certainly call the others toward the sound.

“How many are left?” he asked Stabo and Veron.

“Three or four and Razor,” Veron said still breathing hard.

“Very well, relax and rest,” he told the others. “You have all done fine. Bambi would be proud of all of you as I am.”

With that he pulled them back from the clearing until they could barely see it. “Keep close watch behind us, otherwise they might be able to do the same to us.”

“Listen,” Gorro said quietly and pointed his nose in the direction the wounded deer had run.

They head some more branches breaking Who ever this deer was he sounded big and he was not quiet. An instant later he heard a loud bleat from in the forest from where he heard the weak call before.

“Now quiet,” he said in a low voice.

A little while later he could hear more footsteps, more branches breaking. There were light scents in the air. Maybe three or four deer were running toward where the call had come from. Again they were not quiet, they were just moving like they did not have a an enemy in the forest. After a while he could hear voices, but they were too far away to make them out. A loud bellowing voice that sounded angry he could hear.

"Of course he is dead," Razor's voice rang out through the trees. I told you those deer did not run away. Find them and then call out. The rest of you stay together this time. Find the others and stay together."

 “Get closer and hide behind trees,” he said in a very low voice. “I am going to try and come in on their flanks.”

He crept away taking special care not to make a sound. The other four walked forward until they were just hidden by the trees and waited. It took him a short while to get around to the side. As he did he could pick up a fresh smell of a deer coming closer. Not going into the clearing, but directly toward him. One of the deer was doing the same thing he was, trying to get into place to charge the flanks. There was one deer that was not stupid.  He froze hid behind a large oak and looked. Sure enough there was a large deer walking toward him. It was Razor. With the wind at Razor's tail his son could not smell him yet. He could hear other deer getting close to the clearing. As they broke into the clearing, there was a call of alarm.

“The others are dead,” a deer called out loudly.

“I know,” he heard Veron call out. “We killed them.”

Just then he heard the smashing of branches and the running of feet as Veron, Balo, Stabo and Gorro charge forward into the clearing. There was an immediate sound of bodies colliding.  He did not know how many other deer were in the clearing, but he did not think more than four. The numbers were now the same. He now had the advantage.

The large deer crept forward looking to approach unnoticed and get a good flank hit in. As he turned his back to him, he called out.

"You have lost, Son," he said.

The other deer spun around quickly and lowered his head. 'You think so," Razor grunted.

"I know so," he answered with certainty. "You see four of your males are already dead. They did not know how to fight, we do."

"I suppose you want me to run away?" Razor said as a challenge.

He shook his head no. "No, Son, you are not going to run away. All you will do is get other deer and come back here next season. There is only one way to deal with you and I will do this myself. For better or worse, you are my responsibility. I wish I could have gotten to you a few seasons ago. I could have trained you like the deer that are currently killing all your males. You could have been of use to your herd instead of starving them."

"You are weak," Razor spat out. " Just like Hilgas and just as bad as mother. I will see your guts hanging from the trees and the rest of your males next to it."

"No, you will not," he said almost in sorrow "The only thing you are going to do is die here."

Razon dropped his head and charge. He hesitate and allowed him to build up speed. He charge one leap and then jump to the side and brought his legs around. Razor could not stop or change direction. He was just like Kragus that first day. Razor had gotten to his position on strength and threats alone. He never really had to think about a fight. That is how most male deer fight. Both ways were useless when faced with someone who knew how to fight.

He tripped Razor in mid step. The big male went flying face first onto the ground. Before Razor could stop rolling he ran over and kicked him hard in the face. Even through stunned, Razor kicked out with his feet hitting him in the side with a glancing blow. It unbalanced him and before he could regain balance, Razor was back on his feet.  This deer was fast.  Razor dropped his head and changed straight into him hitting him as he got set. The impact knocked him back and left him dizzy for a moment. He spread his rear legs, shifted his weight and pushed forward pushing Razor. He then leaped back and kicked out with both front hoofs hitting Razor under the chin, cutting him open. The blow knocked Razor sideway and he rolled on the ground and shook off his impact and got up in an instant. Razor was also strong.

“"Well Stranger,” Razor grunted again. “Not as easy as you thought.”

"None of my children are weak," he said. "Other than you, all of them are also smart. I have a daughter that can beat you."

He saw Razor eyes flash red, but he did not charge when taunted. That is what he hoped he do, but Razor stayed back. Instead he stayed still, in a guard position. Razor was stalling until his other males could come to his aid. There was a loud crash from the clearing and heavy grunting from many voices. There was yells of pain from strange voices. He heard nothing that sounded familiar.

“Your males are not coming,” he told him with a smile on his face. “You see I have friends too and they also know how to fight because I taught them.”

There was another loud yell. This yell was one of agony. There was the sound of heavier fighting and the pounding of hoofs. The suddenly, there was no noise from the clearing.

“Now all you have to deal with is me,” he said with a grin and dropped his head and charged.

Razor saw it as a test of strength which he gladly accepted. Only he was not that foolish. Razor charged back and when he was in three length, he leaped aside and turned around. Razor reacted quickly but could not turn as fast as him while running so fast. He kicked out with both his rear hoofs and landed both hoofs hard in his flank. Razor manage to get a front hoof out and hit him on the shoulder as he went by. The impact was hard and pain ran all up and down his side. Razor went sideway into a tree with a crash. It took him only a second to recover from the blow. By then Razor was almost up. He leaped up bringing both feet up. He was off balance so it was not a hard kick but the impact knocked Razor back into the tree. Before he could get up, he turned around quickly and hit him hard with his rear legs. As his rear legs came down, Razor front hoof came up and hit him in the belly. He felt it cut into him, and there was a sharp pain from his underside. He kicked out again from his back legs, this time on Razor’s head. That blow knocked him senseless. Before he could recover he turned and pounded Razor on the head until he felt it crush under his impact. Razor would not move again.

He stepped back and saw a pool of his own blood on the ground mixing with that of Razor. He felt it was serious wound, but not fatal. His left front shoulder was also bleeding. He had to stop the bleeding from his belly. He had seen Man put skin on bleeding cuts to stop the flow when he was in the Man cave. He did not have more skin to use.  If he lay down his legs would be under him. If he could not put skin against the wound, could he put fur? He moved away from the dead deer until he found a patch of soft grass he lay down in and then adjusted his legs until he felt his leg press against his cut. Then he lay still. He knew the bleeding would stop or he would die.

By now there was no noise around him. It was quiet in the clearing. He looked at his dead son lying still in front of him. He felt cold on the inside. He also felt anguish. If he could have only taught him like the others. There was no regret however. He also decided he would never mention this to anyone. As far as anyone would ever know, Razor was no more than another Tarro and suffered the same outcome. No one else needed to know any more. A short while later he saw Gorro walking alone through the forest as if looking for him. He let out a low bleep and immediately came over

“I found him,” Gorro called out. Shortly both Stabo and Balo came over.

“Father,” what happened, Stabo said excitedly.

“Razor and I fought and I killed him, but he injured me. I am cut in the belly. I am trying to stop the bleeding. I dare not move or it will start bleeding again.”

He then looked around and saw only the three deer. “Where is Veron?” he asked.

“Lying in the clearing,” Balo told him. “One of the large males managed to kick him hard in the side. Veron said it hurts when he tries to stand.”

“The other males?” he asked.

“Dead,” Balo said with a grin. “They were strong, but they could not fight the four of us.”

"You and father taught us well," Gorro said with some pride.

They were learning. Now he felt better. If something did happen to him now, he fell fine turning the herd over to Balo, assuming the herd agreed. This was the final test for them all. Not a formal challenge like when deer fight for mates or leadership. This was for survival. There were no rules for that. It was kill or be killed. The fight was over, but there was one thing that had to be done.

“Listen, Veron has to move,” he said. “With all the dead deer in that clearing, the scavengers are sure to come. If Veron is lying down there, helpless, they will kill him and eat him too. Bring him here and we will all stay close together for tonight. The scavengers will not attack us with dead meat so close.”

“We will get Veron to move,” Balo said. “If we have to, we will try and lift him up.”

They left and he waited for a while alone. The forest had gone quiet as if it knew what had happened. He hoped Claris, Carie, and the others would not worry, but he did not want to try and go back to his forest. He looked up and noted the greater light was just past overhead. It had not taken long at all.

“He heard like crashing through the grass. There was stumbling. He saw Veron walking slowly toward him with Stabo and Gorro on both sides and Balo in the back. Veron made it over to him and lay down on the ground.

“My side hurts a lot,” Veron told him.

He did not see any blood from the mouth. He smelled at Veron side and smelled nothing unusual.

“You will be sore, but that will pass,” he said mostly to make Veron feel better. “For now let us all stay here.”

"Too bad the bear isn't here," Stabo said. "He might enjoy what is left in the clearing."

"Yes he would," he said. "Only he might not be alone right now. I would not go and see him."

“Well at least we won the fight,” Gorro said with relief.

“No,” he said. “We survived the fight; that was the best we could do. Now let us rest.”

That night the scavenger did  come and although they smelled all around them, the creatures spent their time with Razor and the others. In a few days they be nothing more than piles of bones. It still did not make him feel good when they started eating Razor.

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