Enna Part I

What is your purpose in life? Why are you here? What do you want? There are the questions Enna, a young male deer asks himself as he begins a journey that will take him throughout his world. As he travels, he will find his beliefs challenge, his understandings altered, his very existence called into question. He will see and experience events that will change his very notion of who he is. This is part one of a three part journey that will take this young der and change him in ways he could never imagine.


2. Expectations


He managed to reach the edge of the new forest by the first light of day. He had moved quickly and with little rest across the open space. He reached the first trees as the lesser light was setting. He decided he’d rest at the edge of the forest and wait until the next night before he started to move around. He had seen or heard nothing as he crossed the open space. He found a nearly hidden place and rested easily. During the day, the wind brought several scents of deer to his nose. He was thankful the scents were all unknown to him. Once darkness came again, he got up and ate some of the grass. It tasted the same as in his forest. His nose lead him to a small stream coming down the hill. Once he had his fill of food and water, he was ready to look around. He moved carefully as he walked deeper into this forest. He soon realized the first problem with the new forest. He knew where nothing was. Through his mother, father, and the other deer, he knew mostly where everything was in his forest, here he knew nothing.

He walked using his nose as his guide. It led him down the forested hill to the bottom. As he reached the bottom, the forest suddenly stopped and opened up into a large meadow through which the small stream joined another brook and flowed through the meadow. There was something else, a Man path. He saw the path run down the middle of the meadow following the stream. It ended in the middle of the meadow. He remembered being told there was one of these on the far side of his forest, but he had never gone there. Delos had told many of the yearling males about it and to beware of it. He looked into the meadow. He could see the movement of deer, but they all seemed to be on the far side of the meadow from him. There were no deer around him. He wondered why. He tested the air and saw, heard, and smelled nothing unusual so he walked out onto the meadow, but kept close to the trees.

He walked alone for a while keeping alert to what was going on around him. The wind was now blowing into his face. In the new breeze, he picked up several deer scents. Although he saw nothing of danger, he felt uncomfortable. This much open space with good grass around him. There should have lots of deer here, but there were none. He walked carefully and quietly. There seemed to be nothing around him, yet from time to time he thought he heard noises of movement from inside the forest near him. He pretended not to notice, but the sounds seem to get louder. The way the wind was blowing meant he could not smell what it was, but it could certainly smell him. He looked up ahead and other than the few deer he could now see on the edge of the meadow there was nothing. He moved faster toward the far end of the meadow. The noise followed him got louder. Whatever it was, it was big and he did not want to meet it.

"Crack," he heard through the trees. He did not wait for anything else. He ran.

He took a fast look behind and saw a large black object running out of the forest many lengths from him. It was a bear, and a big one. He dropped his head and put all his strength into his feet. He flew down the meadow as fast as he could run. He did not look back again. He only concentrated on running across the grassy open space. He looked to make sure he kept on firm footing. A slip now and he be dead. He saw the small stream cross the meadow in front of him before running down the other side of the open field. He ran up to it and then leaped as far as he could. He cleared the running water and then looked back. The bear had stopped by the stream looking at him. He stopped and leaned over trying to catch his breath.

A few moments later he smelled a deer coming up to him quickly. He looked up and saw a four or five-season male coming toward him. One part of his rack had already fallen out. He was big, muscular and looked strong. He came up to him and brought his leg up and kicked him in the side.

"You fool," the voice shouted. "You were leading the bear toward the herd. Do you not know anything?"

The kick had surprised him. It did not hurt much, but it did make him angry. He turned and looked up at the glaring brown-eyed male with the white and brown face. "I did not know you were there," he struggled to say between breaths. “I am new here. I saw the bear and ran." He stopped to catch his breath again.

The large male took a step back and looked down at him. "Yes, I do not know your scent," the male said still sounding angry.

After a short while he stood up straight. and looked at the male. "I am Enna from over the far hill," he told him and pointed his nose the way he came.

The large male stood there as if not knowing what to make of him. "Well Enna, you managed to outrun the bear. He likes to hunt in that part of the meadow. I was wondering who be foolish enough to walk there. Now I know. Very well, I am Relco, one of the senior males in this herd. What brings you to our forest."

"I argued with my herd leader in my forest and decided to leave," he said. That was mostly the truth.

"Very well, you look strong and you are fast," Relco said. "I will take you over to see Ellis, our herd leader. He likes to meet any new deer to our forest as soon as possible. As long as you do not disrespect Ellis, he will not mind you being here. In the meantime, do not feed across the stream. The bear lives there. If you stay on this side of the stream, he should not bother you. You are too late for The Season, so do not expect to find any doe ready to breed."

"I took care of that before I left," he said. "It is one of the reasons I am here."

Relco seemed to chuckle. "Yes, we have had those too. Soon your rack will drop and things will be calm again."

He looked out over the meadow, "Any sign of Man around here. I saw the Man path before being chased."

"Man has come and gone," Relco told him. "He likes to set up his Man caves in the meadow near the stream. He hunts for several risings of the greater light and then he leaves. This year we only lost seven males. Mostly yearlings and two season old males. The Season got better of their common sense. We even lost three doe. "

"Interesting," he said. "In my forest, we never lost any doe as far as I know. "

"Strange then," Relco went on. "Let us go meet Ellis, just remember he likes being treated with respect."

He followed Relco across the open meadow and into some trees. He saw huge stands of old Oaks, many more than in his forest. There were some Pine, and lots of Burch and Elm trees. The forest looked older, there was not as much ground cover as in his forest. Few bushes or shrubs in this well shaded part of the forest. Relco lead him past the forest until they came to a small pond. On the other side of the pond the trees were shorter and there was more brush. There were several thickets. He saw many larger males. All mostly four to six seasons old. Most still had their racks like him. They came to a large thicket. In front stood a large deer. His father was the biggest deer he ever knew, and this deer was bigger than him. His rack was much bigger than his. His scent was strong. He was maybe six-seasons old. Near him were two doe. As he got closer he caught a scent of the doe. The young doe was a yearling and smelled like the male so he thought it was his daughter. The other doe who was maybe four-seasons old stood next to him. Both does were beautiful. Most of the other males had no doe, but there were a few pairs. Relco walked right up to him.

"Herd leader this is Enna, a deer from over the far hill," he said respectfully showing deference. "He has come to our forest."

The herd leader had two deep black eyes that now looked him over. "You seem to be a nice size two-season male. You look strong and fast."

"He easily outran the bear on the meadow," Relco told him.

Ellis nodded. "Speed and strength are good, but are you wise, we shall see." The herd leader looked up at his senior males. "Jano, how is your rack?"

"It is loose, herd leader, but it is still on." the male replied.

 "Come here please?" Ellis asked.

The male walked up. He was larger than him, but not by much. He was heavily muscled and his rack was larger. He turned and nodded to the herd leader. "Yes, herd leader," he said in a deep voice.

"Spar with the new deer. Nothing serious," the herd leader said to both of them.

The herd leader wanted to test his strength. He had little choice except to run. He stood back and spread his rear legs like his father taught him and lowered his head.  Jano dropped his head and lunged suddenly at him. He backed up a step and let the force of Jano's charge waste itself. He then lunged back trying to push the big deer's head down to get position. Jano shifted his weight and came back. He decided to try a faint. He backed up half a length, Jano saw it as weakness and charged. He quickly stepped sideways and most of the force of Jano's charge went by him.  He then came forward and lightly rubbed his rack against the male’s side. Jano spun quickly around and came at him again.  This time they locked and although he tried hard, Jano's bigger size and strength pushed him back.

"Stop," Ellis called out. He immediately stepped back and broke his contact. He still did not raise his head fully warily watching Jano who slowly backed away.

Ellis walked up to him looking him over again carefully. "You have been trained," the herd leader said almost as a question. "By who?"

He deferred in his voice and spoke respectfully. "My father taught me. He was a good fighter and senior male in the herd."

"Did your father come with you," Ellis asked.

"My father is gone," he replied simply.

"He is strong and fast," Jano added. "He is not like our usual two-season males."

"He was also wise enough to see your lunge and counter it," Ellis added. "Very well, Enna, what do you want?"

"I seek to shelter in this forest over the winter," he said and dipped his head slightly.

"I have no problem with that" the herd leader said loud enough to be heard by all. "Would you like to join our herd?"

He had no more interest in joining this herd than his own, but he knew he could not say that. Instead he looked at Ellis and said, "Herd leader I will leave that up to you and the herd. For now, all I seek is shelter for the winter."

Ellis and the other senior males did not look insulted. "A wise answer," Ellis said with a grin. "Very well, Enna, you will stay with the herd males. I do not pick senior males until they are at least four-seasons old. If you decide to say, when you reach that age, we will see."

It was better than he hoped "Thank you, herd leader," he said.

"Relco, show him where to go," Ellis said and turned away. His visit was over. He walked away by the pond when he saw another deer standing off to the side. This was an old deer. His fur was white, and his body, while large, was ragged. This deer had a large rack, and like Ellis, had piercing black eyes. As both he and Relco walked by, the old deer said nothing nor moved. Ellis nodded his head and kept walking.

As soon as they were past the pond, he asked. "Who was the old deer?"

"That is Ellnor, the herd leader's father. He is the oldest deer in the forest. He was herd leader until last Season, when he gave it to his son. He is wise, and at one time, the strongest deer in the forest. All deer here respect him, and will do what he asks."

They walked on, but did not go back to the large meadow. Instead, they walked up another small hill. Beyond that was another hill and in between was a smaller meadow than the one he crossed before. As in the other meadow, a small stream ran down the middle of it and into the woods. Relco stopped at the top of the hill and turned to him to explain.

"Most of the herd males live here. Ellis does not care where you go as long as you do not come back to the pond unless we tell you too. That is for the senior males only. The big meadow is mostly use by the doe, fawns, and yearlings, but you can go there if you want. If you should see something that the herd leader needs to know about, come back to the pond and call. Other than that, you stay with the herd males until you are four-seasons old. "

"Thank you," he said. "Anything else."

"Yes, the males here seek position and challenges are common. As a new male, expect to be challenged. All males must fight for position here. Only a few get to breed. You will not make any friends here, I know I did not. The best we take as senior males. The rest live here until they die, or are killed by Man, or eaten by the other predators. If you are challenged, be quick and hard. Only strength and skill are respected here. Try not to kill anyone, but if it happens, no one will care."

"What kind of predators?" he asked.

Relco answered quickly. "There are bears, a cougar, and dogs. Mostly they go after the old and weak, but give them a chance, and they will go after anyone. Be careful and be wise. There are lots of creatures here who want to kill or hurt you. Only about half the yearlings that come here are alive when they reach four seasons."

They continued to walk down to the open meadow. By now the greater light was rising. It was fully lit when they walked through the trees got to the meadow. He was surprised to see deer on the meadow.

"They have no fear of Man?" he asked Relco.

"Easier to see predators in the day than at night," the large deer answered.  "Man caves are not on the meadow, so he is not here now. Except during The Season when Man comes, it is safer on the meadow during the day, than at night."

"Strange," he muttered. "It is not that way in my old forest."

"Things change," Relco told him.

By then they noticed a herd of males come on to the meadow. There were many of them. Mostly they were yearlings and two-season males like him. He noticed there were some older males. These deer were smaller and did not look strong like the senior males. They were true herd males. Not big enough to become a senior male, or maybe even breed. They live out their lives waiting for death in one form or another to find them. In front was a big three season male. Like him he still had his rack. He moved onto the meadow head up and looking almost like a senior male. He saw no one testing the air or even looking around.  Did they fear nothing? Soon the big male saw them and came over. He strutted like he was in charge. He heard Relco take a deep breath in disgust but said nothing.

"Greeting Relco," the male said. "Who is this?

"This is Enna, a new deer to out forest," Relco said plainly.

"Hmm," the deer said looking him over. "He may be strong," the deer said. "I am Gurren, leader of the Tall Tree herd. if you want to be in my herd, you will ask me respectfully."

He turned to Relco confused about this. “Since when did a herd have two leaders?"

Relcon seem to see his confusion. "There are three groups of herd males. This is the largest. They still are part of this herd and all still are under the senior males and Delos."

"I see," he said and turned back to Gurren. "I am not interested in joining your herd," he said simply.

"Oh, most young males are honored to join my herd," Gurren said looking at him crossly.

What a fool this deer was. He was boastful, and was not careful. This male would not last a full season in his forest. "I do not feel so, honored" he said letting his voice show some threat.

"Oh, the perhaps you will feel honored after I beat your tail," Gurren said and started to lower his head.

He had heard about deer like this before. His father had told him some deer need to be shown that they should not bother you. In that case, his father said, be quick and bold like Relco told him. Most important is to show them that you are not afraid.

"Oh," he said very calm and distinctly and slowly walked up to male. "Sorry, I am new here. Was that a threat?"

Gurren looked puzzled and started to raise his head. As Gurren did he broke his concentration. A bad thing in any fight. He kicked out with his front left hoof and kicked him under the jaw exactly like he had down to Flaros.

"Crack," again echoed through the forest. Gurren was stunned for a moment.

That was all he needed. As soon as his left hoof was on the ground, he used the right one to kick the arrogant male in the side of the head forcing his body to the right. This exposed his right neck and shoulder. He quickly slashed s down with his rack, but not as hard as he did with Flaros. It was still hard enough to cut into the skin and start to bleed, but not nearly as much as with Flaros.

"BAAAAAAA," the male yelled and turned quickly left and bounded away.

Both he and Relco watched Gurren run toward the far trees still dripping blood.  After a moment, he turned to Relco. "I am sorry, is that permitted? I should have asked."

Relco laughed loudly. "Yes, you can fight.," the senior male said watching Gurren run headlong into the trees "Do not worry about it. Sooner or later one of us would have put that idiot in his place. I think you will do well here."

"Thank you, Relco, and thank you for your help," he said and deferred slightly.

With that the large deer turned around and went back the way he came. He turned and walked onto the meadow. If Man was here, he would have heard the killing stick long before now with all the deer on the meadow. As he walked into the meadow, one of the many deer, a smaller yearling came up to him.

"Are you the leader now?" he asked timidly.

He looked down at the yearling who acting more afraid than anything else. "No, I am not your leader. All I need is someone to show me a good place to lie down."

The yearling's eyes seem to light up. "I can show you that," he said with a grin.

"Then show me." he told him and followed the male into the forest.

He awoke that night and even through there were no deer on the meadow, he walked into the middle of the opening. If there were predators around, they have to come out into the open to get at him. He could see and hear them coming long before they got to him.

Nothing bother him as he ate, drank, and emptied himself. He changed his place in the meadow several times to face different directions to make sure no one would try to sneak up on him. Nothing came out of the woods until the lesser light was high overhead. Then another three-season male came out of the forest from near where the stream came down the hill before it flowed out onto the meadow and away from them. He remained still and watched the male carefully. This male also approached carefully. His eyes were fixed on his. He was larger than him, and his rack was slightly bigger. As he got closer he saw that there were scraps and cuts along his front and side. One of his rack points had also broken off. This male had been in some fights. The male came up and stood about five lengths away. He kept his head up. It did not seem he was looking for a fight.

"I am Alcon, leader of the Hill Group," he said simply showing no threat.

"I am Enna," he said cautiously. "I am from another forest."

"I see that. I have not seen you here before. I heard you beat Gurren."

"Yes," he said. "I do not like rude deer. He came at me and I beat him."

"Gurren was strong. He is bigger than you," Alcon said looking him over carefully. "How did you beat him?"

Him too now? This was a different place. No deer in his forest would have asked this question. He answered calmly, "As my father taught me, the most important thing in a fight is being wise, not in being big with a large rack. Gurren is big, but not very smart."

"That I agree with," Alcon said. "Are you now leader of the Tall Tree Group?"

"NO!" he said forcefully. "I am leader of no group and want to keep it that way. I stay by myself and see to my own affairs."

"You do not want to be leader?" Alcon asked as if not believing him.

"No," he repeated. "Being leader is more trouble that it is worth. I am part of no herd."

"Strange," Alcon said. "I have never met a male who did not want to be leader and have his pick of doe."

"I do not need to be leader to get doe," he said. "Otherwise I stay by myself and as long as others do not bother me, I do not bother them."

"Do you not want other deer to look up at you?" Alcon went on.

"Sorry, no," he said. He was trying not to say he did not want to be a leader because he did not care anything about these deer. They were just more deer to him, waiting out their time before they become food for someone. Nothing had changed in him coming to this forest. He had not expected things would change. He needed shelter from winter and food to get through the snow. That was all he wanted. Little else mattered to him.

"You are a strange deer," Alcon told him seeming a little afraid.

"That may be," he said and went back to eating. Soon Alcon understood he was done with him and went away. That was also fine with him.

Time passed as winter came on. Soon his rack fell out and all was peaceful again. There were several days of rain that managed to soak him and all the others. It was miserable, damp, and cold, but no worse than his old forest had been. At least no one was telling him to leave. With the dampness and the cold increasing, some deer started to show signs of sickness. Soon he started to hear coughing from some of the smaller and weaker males. That was not a good sign this early into winter. More reasons to stay away from the others. As he ate, he frequently saw Relco or one of the other senior males would come over to watch. They would not say anything to anyone. They stay a while and go back. No doubt Ellis was keeping watch on them.

The first snow fell. It was not heavy. It barely covered the grass in the meadow. His winter coat grew out and for now he was comfortable.  He still ate mostly alone and at night. The bears had gone into their winter sleep. He had not seen any sign of a cougar. The only predators he saw were the coyotes. Twice they had come onto the meadow at night to study him. No doubt they saw him as a meal. There were only three of them that he could see, so he did not feel in great danger. One time they tried to get closer to him and he just ran quickly into the forest. They left him alone, there were easier meals in the forest.

It was right after the second snow that it happened. He was eating on the meadow after dark and he saw a deer approach. It was Gurren.  He came out and had his group behind him. Although Gurren looked aggressive, the others did not. He could have left the meadow, but that would have shown he was afraid of him. He knew that would be an invitation to the other males to threaten him. He continued to eat, but watched closely. He stayed still and pretended not to notice. Gurren approached slowly. He waited until he got several lengths away and then stopped, turned and faced him.

"Well, what do you want?" he asked with a sneer.

"I want to kill you," Gurren growled. "You kicked me and then slashed me when I was not looking. You hurt me and now I want your blood."

This one was going to get ugly. His father had told him try not to make real enemies, but if you do find a deer that wants to kill you, you have two choices, run or kill him first. A deer like that can attack you at any time, by surprise. You cannot be alert all the time. He will most likely be able to attack you by surprise. You have to take care of the problem by either running away or fighting.

"I did not hit you when you were not looking," he said forcefully. "I hit you when you did not expect me too. I could have killed you then, but I did not."

"Liar," Gurren shouted and got even closer, they were only a length apart. "I was not looking."

There was no winning this argument. Time to see how badly he wanted his blood. " If you want to kill me, I am here," he said slowly getting closer.

"No," Gurren said slowly. "Not now. I am going to wait. I want you to wait for me to kill you. I want you to suffer to wait to die like I suffered after you hit me. I will take you by surprise when you least expect it. I will kill you slowly."

That answered his question and told him what he had to do. He turned his head and looked at the others in the meadow. "Well I suppose you can do that," he said calmly. "But how about we settle this, NOW!" he shouted.

With that he lurched forward and hit Gurren with his right shoulder. The impact knocked the bigger deer back a step. He leaned back on his hind legs and brought both his front legs up quickly in two hard kicks. One hoof caught the three-season deer in the mouth and the other in the neck cutting it open. He quickly came down and saw Gurren was forced back. He could not give him a chance to recover. This fight was now life and death and his father had taught him what that meant.

He turned around quickly and kicked out as hard as he could with both rear legs. He felt both hoofs impact on Gurren's chest. There was a large popping noise. He turned back to face the large deer now staggering backwards. Now what his chance. He charged with his right shoulder and hit Gurren in the flank. The deer went over like he had been struck with a killing stick.  He came up and leaped in the air and stomped on his flank hard with both front hoofs.

"Noooo," Gurren gasped, but he could not stop now. He only be safe with Gurren dead. He continued to stomp on the prone deer several times until he saw blood gush from the mouth. Then he stopped. This deer would not get up again. He turned away and looked toward his former group.

"Anyone else want to kill me," he shouted out. He knew he would have to fight and maybe kill anyone else who stepped forward. None of them did.

He turned and walked silently into the woods. He felt sick to his stomach. He got several lengths into the forest before a large amount of cud came out of his stomach and on to the ground. He also lost control and emptied himself onto the ground almost like when he was a fawn. He had fought before, that did not bother him, but he had never killed before on purpose. He told himself he had to do it. He had no choice. Inwardly he wondered if he should have just walked away and avoided the fight. Did it really matter if he showed fear or not? He looked back at the meadow; it did not matter anymore, least of all to Gurren.

After he emptied himself out at both ends, he slowly made his way to a dry piece of earth. He lay down and just tried to take it all in. After thinking about it for a while, he came to one realization: he was alive, Gurren was dead, and that was all there was to it. It could have been the other way around. He said thanks to his dead father for taking the time to teach him in the short time they had together. He wondered if his father would have approved of what he did. His came to realize that did not matter either. He closed his eyes and fell into a fitful sleep.

From his resting place, he did hear the coyotes on the meadow. They certainly approved of his fight. Gurren made a good meal for them.

They never thanked him for it though.


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