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








Year 10

The old deer was hurrying as fast as he could. His side ached like fire, but he kept going. He had to keep running, time was short. Through the trees and bushes of the Man path forest, he moved. Other deer looked at him, not understanding why he was hurrying, and he had no time to explain. He finally found the large clearing and bleated as loud as he could. A few moments later a deer in his late prime and a nice looking doe the same age came into the open forest. The doe had young a male and a female fawn by her side. He half stumbled into the clearing out of breath and feeling weak in the legs.

“Father, what is it?” Stabo called out.

It took several deep breaths to get the words out. “Stabo, I need for you to go see your mother immediately.”

“Is it her illness?” Stabo asked.

He nodded. “It is much worse. Her fever is high and she is getting cold and numb. She cannot even eat the leaves from the bushes anymore.”

“Is it that bad?” Stabo asked.

“I do not think she has long. She wants to see you. Please go now and do not wait for me. I will be along as soon as my legs and side will allow me.”

He saw Stabo’s eyes close in pain. “I will go at once,” he said and ran off into the forest. That left him alone with Gena and her two new fawns.

“Stranger,” she said and leaned her head into his shoulder. “I should go too with the fawns. She never saw them.”

“No, they are too young to travel quickly. Claris knows they were born healthy. Your place is with them.”

He leaned over and let the two spotted brown fawns come up to him and sniff him. Then they both started to lick his face. He did the same to both. They were both healthy and alert and both seemed to know that he was part of their family. He looked into their young eyes and wondered what wonders they would see before they got to his age, if they lived that long. He nuzzled them both and then stood up.

“I must get back,” he told her and then started back to his clearing.

He was slower going back than coming. His old body was too worn out to hurry. It was injured, broken, and just not working the way it used to. It was a while before he got there. When he did he saw Bambi, Faline, and Young Bambi there. Bambi had gone to get them. He saw Stabo lying beside his mother who was lying on her side. He could see how difficult it was for her to breath. It tore at his heart to see her so sick. He knew soon she pass and again he would be alone. There was nothing to be done for her. The four of them were all old and all would soon pass from the scene. He just thought he would have been first to go with his many injuries. Finally Stabo got up from his mother’s side and walked away with his back toward them. He walked over to his son and saw the tears running down from his big black eyes.

“I cannot think of a forest without my mother,” he sobbed. “She and you were always here. Now she is going and there is nothing I can do to stop it.”

“My Son,” he said and rubbed the back of his neck. “That is the Way of All Things as I have taught you. All things pass in time and new things come to take their place. We all will have our time, even you. That is why we have children to carry on after we are gone. “You mother cared deeply for you as do I.”

“I know,” he sobbed and walked away. "And I cared deeply for her and told her so."

He looked back to the others who were all standing around Claris, all distraught at what was happening. Young Bambi walked toward him.

“I am sorry, Stranger,” the Young Bambi told him also showing misty eyes. “I too will have a hard time thinking of her not being here. It will not be the same. Galene would have come if not for Young Veron.”

“I know, so would Gena,” but we have to take care of what is important and right now those young fawns are important.”

With that he too walked away back to his family life that would soon end. He leaned over Claris and nuzzled her.

“Is there anything you want?” he asked.

“No,” she said in a barely audible voice. “The only thing I want is for you all to leave now. I do not want you to watch me die.”

“No,” he said. “I will stay with you until the end. You have always been with me since that first day I came here. I will be with you.”

She feebly shook her head no. “I do not want that. I want you to walk away now, please.”

Suddenly he remembered what Bambi told him was his father’s last words to him. ‘In the time I am approaching, we are all alone.’

He leaned over and kissed her on the mouth as passionately as he could. “Thank you for making my life worth living,” he told her.

“Thank you for being my mate,” she said and then her head fell to the ground as he body started to shake. He could see death was upon her.

He got up and turned away and walked back to Bambi and Faline. “She will be alone, let us go now.”

With that they all walked away. With his family beside him he turned his back on the clearing and all that it held for him.

He never went back.

He went to the clearing near where he fought Razor and lay down alone.  Bambi and Faline understood without being told he wanted to be by himself at this time. He simply could not get it through his head that he would never talk to Claris again, never feel her beside him. Never hear her voice again, and it hurt him. It was not a sharp pain like he gets from his side. This was a deeper ached that felt like his insides were being pulled out. A hurt that was even worse than the pain from his side. He tried to sleep, but that was impossible. Instead he got up and started walking into the deeper forest.  He had no place to go. He just wanted to get away.

He continued to walk until his side hurt, then he lay down for a while before getting up and starting to walk again. He felt almost numb on the inside.  He continued with his walking deeper into the forest not knowing or caring where he went. He ate what he could find and drank where he could find water. Inside his decayed body, he also felt cold and tired. Part of him just wished he could lie down away from everyone and just pass on himself, but inside he knew he was not ready yet. He continued to walk on and off for two full risings of the greater light. He walked in full daylight, he did not care anymore if Man was here of not. He was slow. He could only move at half the rate he use to. On the third day, he was walking by the end of the forest. He saw no one and certainly no deer were around. As he came near the edge of the forest he stopped. There in front of him he saw it. The Man cave Koren and Young Bambi had told him about. It looked exactly like the one that used to be in his forest before it was destroyed in the fire. It was dark and cold. He walked out into the open to look closely at it.

Even though empty, the cave still reeked of the smell of Man. To the side of the building he could see the remains of a large fire. There was a residual trace of the smell of burnt deer meat. Man had been here and burnt the deer meat he had killed. It chilled him knowing whose meat they might have burnt, but fortunately, he could smell nothing of his daughter or Balo. They were just more memories that seem to be filling up his mind. More deer that had gone, more of his family he never see again. He added the memories of Claris to their memories now. It seem his mind was full of the images of deer that have gone. The dead of the past were outnumbering the living of the present and he again wondered why he had lived this long when he knew he should not have. There were just too many times he should have been dead, and yet he lived. Now if he could just understood why. Yes he had been herd leader, yes he had saved as many deer as he could, and yes he had children to follow him, but most of the others were dead or gone away. Was that enough reason to say why he was still here. Was it his thinking or his skill that saved him, or was it just luck. He did not know. All his knew was that his friends and family were fewer, and he was weaker. Was that the reward of long life; to be given more loss and weakness? It seemed a poor reward for his efforts. He stayed by the side of the Man cave looking until he saw the greater light shine high overhead in the sky. He knew he should go. Man could come back at anytime and if they saw him in the open like this, they might use the killing stick on him. Not that he thought it would matter much.

His instinct took over and he walked back into the protection of the forest and lay down in a patch of grass. He was tired enough so that for the first time in days he fell asleep quickly despite his troubling thoughts. During the day he got up only once to empty himself. He felt tired and sluggish in his moves. He went back to sleep and slept soundly.

"Stranger, is that you," he heard.

He opened his eyes and through the blurry haze he saw a doe in front of him. His nose was clear and he knew the scent.

"Alana?" he asked. "Is that you?"

He got up quickly and faced the now middle age doe. She had a young doe fawn standing next to her.  "Alana, I am happy to see you."

He walked over and nuzzled her on the side of her neck. She did the same.  He leaned over and looked into the face of the doe fawn who started licking him. He rubbed the fawns face with his own and licked her. It was then he got the scent of the fawn It smelled a little of Young Bambi. Even though it hurt he rubbed her nose and looked down at the little pile of brown spotted fur. She looked up at him looking ready to play with him. Not with his side still aching.

“I am sorry, little one, I am afraid I cannot play with you, my body is too old.”

“She will not mind,”  Alana's told him.

“It is a nice looking fawn," he said looking the young one over. "She looks a lot like you. How are you getting along here?"

“Yes, her name is Tilar, and she is my daughter,” Alana said. "I mated with a senior male during the Season. Afterwards he just left. He is nothing like Veron was. Why are you here. I was told by your daughter that you did not travel much anymore because of your injury."

"I don't, but I had to get away. My mate Claris is gone and I just had to get away from the others."

Alana looked shocked for a moment. "Oh, Stranger, I am so sorry," she said and then nuzzled him again. "She was a good deer. I am sorry she is gone."

"Last winter Claris took sick and the sickness remained. I had hoped she get better as spring came, but she got only worse. She died several risings ago. Afterward I felt lost and just started to walk.”

“Are Bambi and Faline alright along with the others?” Alana asked.

“Yes everyone else is alright,” he answered. "Young Bambi has mated with Galene from the forest across the large open field. That have a new fawn. He misses you."

"I know," she  said nodding her head sadly. "After Veron died, I did not see any reason to stay there. Like you I wandered here and lived with the other deer. It is not as good as being with Veron, but here I am a respected doe. I even get along with Delon and Karlene."

"Are they alright?" he asked.

"They will be here shortly. Delon likes to watch the Man cave at night. I expect him here soon."

He again felt the fawn pushing against him, wanting to play. He leaned over and put her head next to the fawn and then pushed her away. The fawn was pushed back several of her small lengths and then stopped, looked at him confused for a moment, and then charged into him. He put his head down and let the fawn push against him. The fawn was strong and liked playing this game. Good, there was no weakness or sickness in this fawn.

“She is a strong little fawn,” he told her. “Start teaching her as soon as she is able to understand."

"No Stranger," Alana told him flatly. "I will not lose her like I lost Veron or my other son. She will grow up like a normal fawn. I will not teach her anything except how to avoid Man."

He rose not liking what he heard. "I heard your older son was killed with Balo and Stena," just saying the names was hard to get out.

"Yes," Alana said turning her head away. "When Balo and the others left your forest, my son Tinsen was just a yearling. "He and I were one of the first deer that joined Balo new herd. He admired Balo and looked to Delon as a guide. He wanted to be like Delon and Balo. Delon started teaching him much like you would have."

"Then what happened?" he wanted to know.

"After the last Season, Man came into this part of the forest. Somehow Man and his dogs got on both sides of the herd. Balo was taking the deer and moving with the wind in his face like you taught him. They all smelled Man and heard the dogs in front of them. Balo turned the herd and ran another way thinking he could avoid Man. He told me, Delon, and Karlene to go to the back and make sure all the deer avoided the Men in front of them. As it turned out Man was waiting in a large clearing. Because the wind was on our tails, we never smelled the Men in front of us. Tinsen was helping Balo and Stena.  Suddenly, the noise of killing sticks came from everywhere. I saw many deer fall in front of me. I leaped to the side and found myself near Delon and Karlene. We all ran deeper in the forest. We never saw Balo, Stena or my son again," Alana sobbed.

Sadly he understood and saw Balo's mistake. "At the first sign of Man, Balo should have taken his herd and gone far enough away from the Man cave that Man could not have gotten behind him. This is what we did back in my old forest."

"They did as they thought you and Bambi would have wanted them to do, and now they are all dead because of it," Alana told him as a fact. "My son and my mate are dead doing the right thing. I will make sure Tilar will never be trained."

He was going to argue, but decided it would not be worth it. He knew the training worked, but only if you used it properly and then only most of the time. Maybe Alana was right.

"I am sorry," he told her. "I wish I would have been here."

"I do not wish you were here," he heard from behind him. It was Delon's voice.

He turned and watched the two deer come out of the forest. A young doe and male fawn were next to Karlene. He put his head down and the two ran up and started to kiss the side of his face. He was pleased they seemed to be healthy also. Delon coughed loudly and the two fawns immediately stopped trying to play with him and ran back to their mother.

"What are you doing here," Delon spat out. "I thought you were old and sick and did not travel anymore."

"I do not," he said. "I had another reason."

Alana jumped in. "Delon, Stranger just told me Claris is dead."

Karlene dropped her head. "Oh, Stranger, I am so sorry," Karlene said and came forward. She slowly rubbed the side of his neck. "I know you two cared deeply for each other. I am sorry she is gone."

Delon did not approach him but stood straight up. "I am sorry too about Claris," he said showing some compassion. "She was one of the few deer that treated mother, father, and myself properly."

He did not like that comment, but let it go. He looked right back at Delon."Stelar told me you had all survived. I am glad about that." he said calmly. "I am really sorry about your mother"

"I find that hard to believe," Delon snorted.

 “Well then here is something else you may not believe," he snorted back. "I am also happy for you  and Karlene and your two fawns which I see are both healthy. I hope you are both feeling well."

 “Feeling well," Delon almost laughed out loud. "How do you think I should feel. You threw us out of your forest, my mother and father were killed, your daughter goes snooping around, and now you show up. You did not care about me, my Mother, or Father. Why should I care what you think of us?”

He was suddenly incensed. What this youngster know anything about what he felt. He walked right up to the large deer and glared at him. “How dare you tell me I did not care for your Mother? Your mother was my daughter, in case you have forgotten. You think I wanted her dead?” he told him tersely. “You mother and father were rejected by the herd because all of you, Carie and Stuben included, forgot you serve the herd, not the other way around. When the time came, the herd would have decided which one of you would have followed your father. You did not have to force it on them. The herd made the correct decision to reject you all as it should have done.”

“I do not see it that way, Stranger,” he said with contempt. “I see someone that should have supported my father and did not. You are not welcomed here nor will you ever be. If you were not an old worn out deer, I throw you out myself.”

“Delon,” Alana called out. “That is unkind.”

“Not as unkind as him,” Delon spat out. Even Karlene looked shocked.

He did not move a muscle. “I am not so dead yet, but fine I will go. You really did not learn a thing I taught you. Pity, but so be it.”

With that he turned and walked back the way he came. He stopped and turned toward Alana and Karlene. "Thank you both," he told then and bowed his head. "I wish you and your children well." He then turned to face Delon. "I wish you well too, something else I am sure you do not believe."

Delon looked unimpressed, not that he cared. “And you can tell Bambi, Faline, Stabo, Gena and the others that they are not welcomed here also,” Delon bellowed out as he left.

“You do not have to worry about me or the others," he said walking away. "Claris is gone, and as far as you are concerned, I am gone also.”

He walked away not even bothering to turn around. Although he felt relief that Alana, Karlene and Delon had survived, Delon's words bothered him. Claris dying hurt him deeply, but not as much as this. He tried not to look back with hate on Stena’s son, but it was hard to do. He spent the next two full nights walking slowly back to his home, or what was left of it. Again he could walk only a short time, before his side started to hurt again, but he managed to get back to his part of the forest. He reached it just before the rising of the greater light. He picked a small place with no deer around and fell into a fitful sleep.

The next night he found the others eating in a small clearing near the old Man cave. He got onto the open area and started to eat the grass. The others saw him and wondered what had happened. He told him where he had gone and what had happened. He did not leave out any details.

“I can understand Delon not liking what the herd decided about his father,” Stabo said. ”I can understand him being angry his parents are dead. What I do not understand is his hatred of you. You and Bambi trained him, showed him everything he knows.”

“He truly feels it was us who caused the herd to reject his Father and Mother,” he said his voice choking up. “What he seems to forget is his mother was my daughter. I watched her grow up. I watched her feed at Claris’s side. I saw how she acted when she was hit by Man how she allowed me to take out the Man stone without complaint. I saw her take Balo for her companion long before she took him as her mate. I trained her and watched her own fawns grow up. Delon seems to think all that means nothing to me. I am sorry, but I just do not get it anymore. My only consolation was Claris did not hear it.”

“The ungrateful slug,” the younger Bambi said. “He does not want us. Fine, we do not want him either.”

“No,” he said plainly. “Even after all he has done, he is still our family as is Stuben. Stuben at least learned from his mistake. I doubt Delon will. Still, if he asks for it, we still must help him, if nothing else for Karlene’s sake and the fawns.”

“Why she went with him I also do not understand,” the younger Bambi went on.

“She stays with him because for a long time those two have cared deeply for each other much like Stena and Balo did. We can only hope he comes to his senses.”

Spring was lonelier than ever. Galin, Young Faline, Koren and the others had all gone back to the forest over his hill across the open space. He had heard nothing since they left last spring. Stabo and Young Bambi had young fawns to take care of. That left him, Bambi and Faline to wander by themselves. There was nothing left for them to do except wait out the time until it was they lying on the ground alone. He found himself spending more and more time in the forest by himself.

It was not the best time of his life.

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