The Stranger: Into the Rising Light

This is the sixth and final story in the life of the Stranger. Stranger is now old. Other deer have taken over from him. He now awaits in the forest for his end which he knows will come soon. This should be a time of rest and relaxation, but old enemies and new problem once again upset Stranger's plans. How he faces these problems brings this series of stories to an end. Please let me know what you through of these stories

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2. RETURNS

 

 

It was  only days after from his walk that he heard noise coming from the meadow. Just after the rising of the greater light he heard the deep rumbling noises of Man animals traveling down the Man path in their forest. There were many of them. The noise woke him, Bambi and Faline. A short while later he started to hear noises coming from the meadow. There were pounding noises, shouts, and the sound of Man things. The shouts sounded like it came from many Men. There were also many different scents of Man coming from the meadow. Then the banging noises started. It sounded like they were hitting things into each other. There were also several deep growling noises like angry animals. It all sounded far too close for comfort.

“It sounds like it is coming from where the old Man cave was,” Bambi said.

“Do you think they are building a new Man cave here?” Faline asked.

He nodded, “It sounds like it, but we should stay still until after the greater light sets and the Man animals go home. Until then we should try and get some sleep. I think it may be a long night.”

“Who can sleep with that noise,” Bambi grumbled.

They slept in fits and starts all day as the noises continued. They did not smell the scent of Man, nor  any sounds of Man that came into the forest. All the noise and smells came from the meadow. It did not sound like Man was trying to hunt. It sounded like the banging noise when Man makes things. As expected, as the greater light set, the Man animals all left. Then there was quiet again. As soon as it was fully dark he went looking for Stabo and the younger Bambi. He found them nearby.

“I am going to go take a look at where the noise came from,” he told them. “I think both Bambis and Stabo should come with me. The fawns are not big enough to be left on their own so I will ask the doe to stay here and watch them.”

He could see Gena and Galene were angry, but they could also see he was right. The new fawns would be nosier than all of them.

“Can I go?” Stelar his daughter asked.

"Me too?" Kena, Gena's yearling daughter spoke up next.

"Not with your fawn," Helos told Stelar who was with their young male fawn Jolon. "Jena and I will go with you, but Jena you must keep quiet."

He looked at Stabo who shrugged his shoulders. “Very well, but we must all keep very quiet." he told them.

They all walked off together. After a while he stopped and turned around and looked at Kena.

“Come here,” he told her.

She came up looking a little shy. “Very well young doe, I have a question from you. We are going to approach Man. How would you do it?”

Kena looked at all of them and then walked away from then by a few lengths and looked around and sniffed the air. She then nodded and came back to them.

“The wind is coming from the hill with the bear’s den. We should walk to the other side of the Man path forest near your old forest. Then we should approach the Man cave with the wind in our faces, far enough inside the trees to hide us.”

“That is correct,” he told her, “What else?”

“We need to be quiet and listen for Man or dogs, but they are most likely not there at this part of the season,” she answered.

He looked back at Stabo who was smiling. “Very good, Kena, you have remembered.  Now also remember that while it is not usual that Man comes at this time, anytime there is a chance Man may be around, you must be careful. Now go back and walk next to your Father.”

They all walked out toward the edge of the Man path near the open space that lead to his old forest. They then did as Kena said and approached the place they heard the noise with the wind in their faces. As they approached the edge of the forest he stopped and motioned from here on out no talking. As they got near the edge of the forest he first saw a Man animal like he had seen all those years ago when the Man cave was first built. It was cold and still. It was the Man animal that had the large piece of armor or scale on its front. They then saw where Man had made a pile of earth.  He also saw several holes in the ground. Yes man was going to build something here. So far he could not see any sign of the Man cave, but Man was interested in making something here. He also knew that Man would be back early the next morning. They looked at it a while and then walked into the forest and vanished into the trees.

They walked quietly back to the clearing where they left the doe with their new fawns. All were standing there calmly when they returned.

“Man is building a new Man cave,” he said. “That means Man will hunt here in The Season. Man also has a Man cave deeper in the woods that I have seen. That may mean that Man will try and chase us from this part of the forest, toward the other Man cave.”

“Or they could try and get behind us and try to force us onto the meadow where they can use their killing sticks on us,” the young Bambi said. “This does not look good for the herd here.”

"We cannot let them get behind us like they did to Balo and Stena." Stabo said. "One way would be to take the herd deep into the woods at the first sign of Man."

“No it does not look good,” he repeated. “We must have a plan what we will do when the time comes.”

“The only way to go would be across the Man path into the other part of the forest,” the elder Bambi said.”

“Could we cross the small open space and run into the Meadow forest?” Gena asked.

“We have to cross the open space,” he reminded her. “It is short, but large enough for Man to use his killing sticks on the herd.”

“We could run deeper into this forest and hope we do not run into Men from the other Man cave, ”Stabo suggested.  “Also, if we all run in different directions, Man cannot be everywhere at once.”

“True, my Son,” he said. “However if you break down into small groups, Man would still be able to find them and kill them. We must find a place where Man cannot find us." He stopped and let them consider that before adding, "There may not be a good answer to this problem. We do have a while to think about it.”

“I think I am still a little hungry,” Kena said. “I think I will go into the next clearing and eat something.”

"I am hungry too, we can think about this another time," Gena said and got up with her. The other doe followed. He went with them and started to eat until his side hurt again and then he stopped. By then the greater light was rising.

Gena spoke up after she was done eating and feeding her fawn. “I think we should go deeper into the forest to get away from the noise. I like to try and sleep today.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” he said and followed her along with the others.

The noise continued for several more days. Each night they looked, the Man cave got bigger and bigger. There were also other things built that were not there before. He noticed a hole in the ground surrounded by red stone. The same red stone was being used to construct part of the Man cave. This cave looked much bigger than the last one. It soon became clear to all of them that the new Man cave would be about twice as big as the old cave. That meant more Men in The Season and more killing sticks. Poor Stabo looked at it and his heart sank.

“If there are twice as many Men and they are come into the forest to hunt, then we are all going to end up like poor Balo and Stena,” Stabo told him and both Bambis privately.

“We are going to have to flee across the Man path and hope Man does not follow us,” the elder Bambi repeated.

“Or go deeper into the forest and hope you do not run into the other group of Men,’ the younger Bambi told them.

“I do not like either idea,” Stabo said.

"What we need is a safe place like we had on the top of the  hills in the old meadow forest. Some place where we can hide the herd and it will be difficult for Man to find us."

"I do not know of such a place here," Stabo said.

"Then perhaps we need to find one," the older Bambi said.

It suddenly became clear to him how to do this. "We will have to send deer out we trust to look for one. Young Bambi, I am afraid that will mean you and Helos. You will have to go deep into the part of the forest past the Man path and there look. I would do it, but I cannot walk far enough or fast enough."

'Now until the fawns are older," the younger Bambi told them. We will have to leave our doe here in order to travel quickly and quietly."

Stabo just nodded his head in agreement. "Mid-summer will be the right part of the season to go. Also remember that soon I am handing herd leadership to you.”

They all knew that was going to happen this summer. Young Bambi was old enough now and ready. This would be his first problem.

They left it there and hoped a solution would show itself before long. He went back teaching Kena.

The work on the new Man cave continue for a while. It was taking longer for Man to make this new cave than the one that burnt up in the fire.

It was in late spring that something unexpected happened to them. They were feeding one night on the edge of the open meadow where the grass had grown back. They were eating when he saw a black shape come down from the hill. He recognized it as the bear, but he was usually over the hill at that time. A short while later a smaller black shape came down, but  did not come onto the meadow. He then remembered what the bear had told him before.

"All of you stay here," he told them. "This time I will go alone. I am not sure about the other bear."

"Maybe I should go, Father," Stabo said. "I can still run."

"No," he told them."This is my problem. Something is wrong or the bears would not be here at this part of the season."

He walked out past the new Man cave and onto the middle of the meadow. The spring grass was less than before, but still enough to feed the herd. The bear walked out alone and met him.

"What is wrong?" he asked.

"I wanted to tell you that Man is building a cave over the hill at the end of their meadow," the bear told him. "I also heard the noises from here," the bear said and  looked the Man cave over carefully. This cave looks much bigger than before."

"He also has another cave deep in the Man path forest," he told him. "That is three new Man caves. This means Man is going to hunt in much greater numbers than before."

"I think you are right," the bear told him. "My den may not be safe anymore."

"Our herd does not feel safe anymore," he replied. "We are looking for a new place to hide."

"I am afraid we are going to have to do the same thing," the bear said and looked back. "I also wanted to bring Uttral back."

"Is she learning like you did?" he asked.

"Yes, but like me it was slow," the bear told him. "It will take time. It is not natural for one of my kind to be friends with one of your kind."

"Understood," he said. He then looked around and saw the hill he used to live on before the fire. No deer went there, it was too barren still. There was no food.  "Suppose you put a den on the other hill," he said and pointed his nose toward there. "No deer goes there. Maybe no Men will go there."

The bear looked carefully. "That might work for now and this season," he muttered. "It is bare there, so no place to hide. Might be a good place for a den." The bear then looked at the rest of the deer standing many lengths away. "Are they still concerned about me?" the bear asked sounding disappointed.

"Not you, your daughter," he answered. "She is still large and powerful enough to kill one of us easily."

"Yes," the bear admitted then looked at his family. "I do not see Claris, nor do I smell her on you."

That brought the pain back, but there was no way his friend would have known. "She is gone," he said simply.

The bear looked genuinely pained. "I am sorry," he said in a low voice.

He explained quickly what had happened recently.

"This has not been a good season for you and your family," the bear said. The bear then looked back at his daughter still at the edge of the woods. "I must get back. Thank you for the information and advice," he told him.

"Thank you, for telling me about the other Man cave," he said. "Keep well, my friend."

With that he nuzzled the bear and went back to his family. They were not pleased at all with what the bear told him. The need to find a new hiding place suddenly took on much greater importance.

It was few risings of the greater light later when they were all eating in one of the clearings. It was evening when he suddenly smelled several scents of deer coming toward them. It took his nose only a moment to recognize the scents. He looked up, Gena looked surprised.

“Karlene?”she said out loud.

Five deer walked into their clearing: two doe, and three fawns. For a second he wondered where they came from until he caught a scent of them.

 “Mother?” Young Bambi said out loud.

All of them approached the new group. It was Alana and Karlene and three new fawns. They all ran and greeted all of them.

"Why are they here?" Stabo asked.

He suddenly had a sinking feeling in his stomach. Why would two doe risk a long trip with young fawns. Something bad must have happened.

“What has happened?” he asked both of them.

“I left Delon,” Karlene said almost in tears. “He has changed. Stranger, after you left he argued with everyone. I tried to talk to him, but he would not listen. Finally I left. Alana, and her fawn came with me.”

“I cannot be around him anymore,” Alana said. “He said I cared more for you than his herd and he was right. He does not like you, Stranger. He does not like any of you. He orders the deer around and if they do not do what he says, he kicks them until they do. He is a bad leader and I fear he will come to a bad end like Geno did. I do not want to be there when that happens.”

He looked at the elder Bambi who swallowed hard and then turned away from all of them, his head hung low to the ground. The big deer started to walk away suddenly looking very old. He staggered for a moment and made a strange face. The others looked at him with worry. It was if he was suddenly in great pain. He and Faline ran to him think he was going to fall, but he stopped and steadied himself.  He took several deep breaths before he could speak up. “I am thinking Alana is right, he is just like Geno,” he said, his voice labored. “Now it is Delon too that I failed to reach.”

“I did too,” he told his old friend. “I feel as bad about this like I felt about Balo and Stena.”

“Where did we go wrong?” Bambi asked as if still in pain.

“You did not go wrong,” Young Bambi spoke up loudly. “Stabo did not go wrong, your daughter Gena did not go wrong. My Father did not go wrong. Gorro did not go wrong. “No, Bambi you and Stranger did nothing wrong. What this shows is that some deer can learn what you taught and some deer cannot.”

“He is correct, my mate,” Faline said nuzzling the back of Bambi’s neck. “Other than Geno, our children came out fine. Even Geno’s children are good. The failure is with Delon, not with you.”

It was then he saw Faline stiffen like something had hit her. The others noticed it too.

“Faline,” he said, “Are you alright.”

She looked normal again. “No it is just a pain I get in my chest at times. Sometimes is goes down my left front leg and left side. Like you, Stranger, I am getting old.”

“Faline are you sure?” Bambi asked and kissed the side of her face with affection.

“Yes,” she said. “We should not be sad that Delon has failed. “We should be happy we have our family back.”

“I agree,” Gena said. “I am happy to have you all back.”

“Karlene looked at Stabo, “Father, can we stay here?” she asked.

“Of course you can,” Stabo said. “All of you can stay.”

All of them agreed. In a way he was happy. He liked the idea of his son’s children running around and playing with them. One of the things he missed most about getting old was not playing with his children again.

“I have something to say about that,” they heard from a distance.

“Onto the meadow walked Delon, big with a full rack growing He looked furious at them.

“It was not bad enough you threw my mother and father out so they could die, but now you take my mate and my children. No, that will not happen. She and Alana are coming back with me if I have to drag them back.”

What happened after that was so fast he never had a chance to say a word. Young Bambi's eyes flashed red. Without saying a word, he dropped his head and charge straight at Delon, who put his head down and charged. They both met head on with a crash. Both of them flew back. Young Bambi recovered first and charged again. Delon dropped and tried to trip Young Bambi by bringing his rear legs around. Young Bambi saw it and leaped up into the air coming down and kicking Delon in the side of the head. Delon managed to move aside and so the kick just grazed his head. Delon raised his head and let out a kick that caught Young Bambi in the side of the head knocking him sideways. Young Bambi went down, but rolled out of the way. However he did not get quickly to his feet.  Delon saw the advantage and charged as he did Young Bambi lurched forward and brought his velvet covered rack up underneath Delon plunging them into his chest. If they had been out of velvet, that might have killed Delon right there. At the same time he lifted with his powerful legs. As he did, Delon went flying through the air. Delon hit the ground hard and was stunned. They could all see the welts on his chest and belly bleeding, but not seriously. Young Bambi was on him in a moment and raised up to pound him on the side. If was then they are saw Young Bambi was going to killed Delon.

“NO!” both he and Bambi yelled out at the same time.

He tried to move to stop them, but Bambi was much faster now than he was. Young Bambi came down hard on the side of Delon with his front hoofs. He raised up to pound him again when Bambi ran forward and hit him in the flank with his shoulder. That knocked him sideways and then off his feet. He hit the ground rolled once and then got up quickly. Bambi stood between him and a Delon just getting to his feet.

“Enough!” Bambi called to both of them. “This family will not kill each other while I am still alive.”

Bambi then turned and shoved his face into Delon’s face like he had done to Krono all those seasons past. “You leave now, before I kill you myself. You have no place here. You have no claim on Karlene, her fawns, or Alana. You turn up here again and I will let him kill you. The Stranger was right. You have learned nothing of what we taught you. You are as bad or worse than my own son Geno. I threw him out of my forest; I am now throwing you out also. Go and do not come back.”

Delon got up and was limping slightly. He was breathing hard looking to attack Bambi, but Bambi was ready for him. By now Stabo had come up and also looked ready to pound him. Delon turned and without a word started to walk back into the forest.

“Do not come back, Delon,” Stabo repeated. “You are no longer welcomed here.”

“What is new about that,” Delon blurted out. “I will come back if I feel like it.”

“You come back and you are dead,” Stabo said emphatically.”I will follow you to make sure you go.”

Stabo followed Delon into the trees and they both disappeared.

Bambi then turned to his namesake. The young male was on his feet looking not much worse for wear. “I am sorry,” he told him. “I could not let you kill him. If he comes back, then you do what you want.”

“I am sorry too,” Young Bambi said. “I lost my temper. I was not going to let him harm my mother.”

“That happens at times to all of us. I know all about that feeling,” Bambi said. They all smiled.

Stabo came back just before the rising of the greater light. “I followed him until he went past the clearing we found Razor’s males in. I told him again what would happen if he came back. He said nothing. I do hope he listened because next time, I will kill him or I will let Young Bambi kill him.”

“I know and again I should not have done what I did,” Younger Bambi said bowing his head. “That was the duty of the herd leader.”

“Do not worry about it,” Stabo said “I was not offended.”

“I am only sorry that now I will have to raise those fawns without a Father,” Karlene said. “I had hoped when they were old enough Delon would teach them. I had hoped he would remember what you taught him and maybe change. As it was, I was too hopeful.”

“And I also was too hopeful,” he added. “Other than Delene, nothing much came out of that part of my family,” he said. “Like you I had hope for Delon, like I had so much hope for Stena.”

“I know,” Stabo said. “I knew she was most like you, but in some ways she was different. She let Carie cloud her judgment. “I just hope we have seen the last of her too.”

“Do not worry about training your fawns,” Young Bambi said. “I will be training mine and they can learn with them.”

“Thank you, Bambi,” she said and nuzzled him.

“Speaking of hope,” he said. “It is getting toward light. I hope we can get some sleep today.”

They all agreed and slowly walked back into the shelter of the forest.

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