Enna Part II

Part two of the adventure of Enna

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2. Chapter Six: Revelations

 

After his conversation with Mersin, he went back to his resting place thinking Artose would call him or come to see him the next night. That did not happen. He heard nothing the following night either. After three nights, he decided to explore this forest. When and if Artose wanted to speak with him, he could find him. He wandered off walking past the clearing with the herd males. Guan told him the other clearing was that way. As he walked by the hill with Artose and the senior males, he noticed the ground was getting rocky. He also saw many small hills, some quite steep. He saw one hill that looked tall and was heavily wooded at the bottom. He decided to climb it to see what view it would give him. It took effort, but he made it to the top. As he did, he noted many of the trees near the top were burnt. The air had a lingering smell of burning wood. There had been a fire on this hill.  When he got closer to the top, the hill opened out. There were lots of bushes, but few trees on the top of the hill. It was mostly open and he could see the whole forest from the top. He rested that night in the open.  There were plenty of long blade grasses, many bushes containing berries, and eatable leaves, but no water.

He woke as the greater light was setting and walked out into the open. He could see all around him. He looked out and saw the forest spread out below him. It was then he could see how large the forest was. Although the forest went on for a distance, he could see large open fields around the edges. The open fields were mostly flat, while the forest he was in had several hills, many sticking up above the trees. It was a nice viewing area; however, being dry with no source of water, he could not stay there. He looked and saw the open clearing he had come from, and even larger opening some ways away. That must be where the doe and fawn stayed. He went back down the hill, found a small stream and drank his fill. After emptying himself, he continued on toward where he saw the other clearing was. He found it after night fall and went into the clearing. There were many doe there. Most having one to three fawns with them. They all looked healthy and happy. He saw or smelled no sickness. He walked on the meadow looking. Other than a few new born fawns, no one approached. He ignored the fawns and ate his fill on the plentiful grass. Then he left. He was satisfied the herd was well taken care of, not that it really mattered.

He was walking back toward the herd male clearing when he heard a voice call to him. "Enna," the voice was sharp and clear. He turned to see an old deer standing cross wind of him. It was Artose, and he was alone.  He walked over and bowed his head slightly in respect.

He answered in a respectful tone."Yes, herd leader. I was told to expect you."

"I thought I give you a few days to study the herd," Artose said in a soft voice "What do you think of it?"

"It is a nice herd. There is no hunger, no sickness, the deer seem happy. Nothing goes on here that does not go on in any other herd."

"Yet, you still do not feel for it," Artose added abruptly.

That took him back for a moment. He decided to tell him truthfully. "No, herd leader, I do not feel anything for them."

Artose stopped suddenly and looked squarely into his eyes like he was searching for something. "Is it that you do not feel for them, or you will not let yourself feel for them?"

He was confused by what he said. "I do not understand," he said meekly.

Artose shook his head. "Do not feel for them means you truly feel nothing inside you for this herd. Not letting yourself feel means you will not permit any feeling to form inside you for this herd. Which is it, Enna?"

He was taken back. He knew he did not have any feeling inside himself for this herd or any other, but that was mostly because he knew it did not matter what he felt. It was a meaningless question to him.

He shrugged his shoulders. "It does not matter if I do not feel anything or won't allow myself to feel anything. In the long run the forest will not care what I feel or why."

Artose smiled. "Yes, in that you are correct. The forest will not care what you do, or what I do. It will continue on. It is not the forest that I question, it is Enna I want an answer from."

This time he started at Artose. "Then Enna will tell you again, it does not matter what I think. Since the forest does not care, why should I?"

"How about because you want to,” Artose told him.

Now he was confused. What was this old deer trying to get at. "Why?" was all he could think to say.

Artose took a deep breath and if he was trying his patience. "Enna, let me put it this way. You say the forest does not care and you are right, it does not. In fact, not only does the forest not care, it will never care because there is nothing you and I will ever do to make it care. We are not important to the forest. This herd is not important to the forest. You will never do anything in your life that will affect the forest one way or the other."

That much he understood. He and the rest of the animals in the forest may live and die, but they played no part in how the forest lives. "So then why should you and I care about anything if we can do nothing to make the forest care about our actions?"

"Because my young and foolish deer, the fact that we cannot change the forest makes us free to do what we want. There is nothing we will ever do to affect the forest. So then why do we not do things that will affect us. We will never be able to do any good or harm to the forest. Why then do we not do things that will do good for us and avoid the harm. The forest will never care, but we can care. If forest cannot be happy either with us, or be happy with anything we do, then why cannot we be happy with ourselves with what we do. Just because the forest does not care, that does not mean you have to go through life not caring about anything. You have just as much right to be happy as any deer in the herd, and who cares what the forest thinks about it."

That stopped him cold. He had never heard it put that way before. He had always felt the other deer disliked him, because they felt he had an obligation to care about them. He never felt that obligation for them, and he resented them trying to make him feel it. Artose was saying, he thought, that because he owed the forest nothing, the he was free to feel as he pleased. The obligation was not on him to force him to want to feel, it was on him to feel because he wanted to.

"You are saying that what I feel about other deer should not be caused by the forest, or the herd. Instead I should feel because I want to feel, and it does not matter what the forest or others think?"

Artose smiled broadly. "Exactly, Enna, you feel what you want to feel for whoever you want, and it does not matter what any of us say. It is your life not ours. You control it: not the forest, not the herd, not the senior males; only you."

That was interesting but another point came to mind. "Then what happens if I feel like Helscom and try to force other deer to do what I want. "

Artose answered quickly. "If that is what you want, go ahead. The forest will not care. The other deer may care and may try and stop you. You see the ability to feel what you want to do is the same for all other deer too. If we feel we do not want to be part of your herd, we can stop you. Then it becomes a test of strength which is how all things like this have been settled from the very beginning. Helscom will dominate, as long as he has the strength to do so. To him this feels right. I will not allow it here because I feel it is wrong and the other deer here agree with me."

He looked at the old deer in amazement. "How do you know all of this?"

"Because at one time I was like you. I wandered all over thinking no one cared and I would not either. That is how I met Ellnor and other deer in the forest. After several seasons, I came here and one day while I was standing on the hill with the clearing on top and saw all the forest before me. It was then I finally understood. I told Mersin and together we started this herd. I hope this herd goes on after me, but I cannot make that happen or even make the forest care about my herd.  I have to accept I can only do what I can do while I am still alive. Afterwards, it will fall to someone else and they will do what they want."

That was the greatest surprise of all. He always thought no deer ever felt like him. He was just too strange, and yet he was wrong about that. The rest of what Artose told him, he was not so sure about. The idea of him feeling good only because he wanted to seemed a bit hollow. There had to be more to it than just what he wanted. There had to be something else.

"Herd leader, I hear your words, but I am not so sure if I agree with them. I cannot believe my lack of feelings can be changed, by just me wanting to change them. There has to be more to it than that."

"There is," Artose told him, "But the next part you have to find on your own. I can tell you, but until you are ready to accept it, you will not believe it. For now, I have told what I think you need to know. Go think about it and if you have questions, come see me."

He felt like asking why should Artose care, when he understood that for Artose, he cared because he wanted too.  No other reason was important to him. It made him feel strange. Even though it was starting to get light he walked back to the hill with the burnt trees and the opening at the top.

After drinking in a stream at the bottom of the hill, he slowly climbed it again. He got up where he could clearly see the entire forest before him. He stared at the forest before him as the greater light came up.  The whole forest was spread out before him as if he was leader over all of it. The light turned the forest a color like the leaves in autumn. The rising light, the color, the tress, and the forest below all did not care that he was standing here. Yet it was still beautiful, not because the forest said so, but because he felt it to be beautiful. The forest would never be beautiful to itself, yet it was beautiful to him. That was his decision to make and no one else. He smiled and understood that Artose was at least correct about some of what he said.  For the first time, in a long time, he felt happy he was alive and standing here.

He spent the next few days alone, standing on the hill and watching. He only came down to drink. He talked to no one and no one talked to him. As he looked he could see birds flying across the sky. He could hear animals calling, most he did not know. The Man machines worked in the fields. At night, he could hear the calls and sometimes screams of creatures living and dying around him. He slowly understood that he was part of all of this around him, but why he was a part, he did not understand. The next morning as the greater light rose, the light lit the trees with the same autumn color he had seen before. It also lit him, and the grass, and brush around him all took on the same color. It was then he realized it in a second. All was the same color, because they are all in the same place. Artose was right, the forest would not care, but then he saw the forest and he could care. Why, because the forest was not alive like he was. The forest could only feel through life, but not just any life. All were the same color around him, but he could see it, the trees and bushes could not. He could speak about it, the grass could not. The forest did feel, but it could only feel through certain creatures like him. At that moment, he understood: They were all one, but they all were not the same. All the animals could only do what the forest allowed them to do.  He could feel and he could tell others what he felt, and he was free to feel as he wanted and for who he wanted. In a flash, the sense that he was just an unthinking part of the forest vanished. In its place was the certainty that he could feel and he would feel for himself, and not for the forest.

He turned and ran down the hill. He ran to the hill Artose was on. Without thinking much he ran up the hill to the top. Several of the senior males were just getting ready to rest. He turned and saw Artose and ran over to him despite the shouts of the other males. He did not care he was not listen. Artose saw him coming and stopped.

"The part you would not tell me," he gasped. "It is that we are all part of the forest and although the forest cannot feel, we can, so we feel for the forest. The forest acts through us."

Artose standing alongside his surprised mate smiled. The old deer walked forward and rubbed his forehead against his. "You have it," he said. "Now you are ready to understand everything as it is."

It was only then that he looked around are the stared of several senior males looking at him as if he was crazy. He realized he had broken the rules in coming here, but he had to talk to someone about this.

"I am sorry," he said to all of them and put his head down in shame. "I should have waited until tonight. I will leave."

"Do not feel bad," Artose said. "When the light came to me, I could hardly wait until I could tell Mersin. The fact is I work him up. He was cross at me for several days later. Now go, I will talk to you later."

"Again, I am sorry," he said out loud and quickly left the top of the hill.

"What got into him," he heard Lancin mumble.

"He has finally understands why he is here," Mersin said as he left them.

He got to the bottom of the hill. He was still anxious to tell everyone what he had discovered, then he stopped. Just like what just happened to him on the hill, his new understanding was not for everyone, it was only for him. They had not seen the forest like he did. They had not felt inside as he had. Others would see the forest differently than him, would not understand in the same way he understood now. After thinking for a moment, he decided to keep this new understanding to himself. 

A few days passed by. He went back to the herd males and lived with them. He was still not eager to get in on what was happening within the herd, he still preferred to be alone. He just felt better alone. The one thing that had changed was, he no longer felt he did not belong here. He had just as much right to be here as any deer in the clearing. Other males did talk with him, and he talked back, but for the most part he watched the antics. Many males, especially the two-season males, were performing mock combat with each other. They tested each other. This was still like fawn play, no one was serious. Even when some young male came up and lowered his head to charge him, he did not take it seriously. He did prove to those who challenged him that he was the stronger by pushing them back, but not in a way that hurt anyone. Even some of the older males would push against him, but even though they were older, and in a few cases bigger, they were not stronger he was.

One late spring night, Guan came over to him. He was looking happy and eager.

"Enna, I am feeling a bit stiff," he said in a carefree manner. “Care to have a little contest?"

"Fine," he said and put his head down. Guan came at him and tried to push him back. He locked his front legs and did the same. They did not charge with their racks, still growing under the skin. Instead they locked at the shoulder and pushed. Unlike almost all the other males, Guan was not easy to move, and neither was he. Every time one of them changed position to get leverage, the other would counter. He waited until Guan was pushing back hard, when he suddenly backed up quickly and turned. Guan went by him in a rush. As he did, he threw his shoulder into his side knocking him back.

Guan quickly recovered and came back. He put his head up indicating the contest was over. "Where did you learn that move?" he asked.

"From my father and Ellnor," he said. "Both are gone now."

"Sorry," Guan saw in a low voice.

"It happens," he answered.

"What do you think?" Guan said.

He understood exactly what he meant. How did he measure up was what Guan was really asking? He also noticed the collection of males around them who had seen their contest. His answer was not for them.

"Let us take a walk," he said and moved off to the forest.

They moved out of the clearing and the collection of males and into the forest until he was sure they were alone. Then he stopped.

"I did not want to offend the others with what I was going to say," he told Guan.

Guan just nodded and waited.

He looked right at the big deer and spoke plainly. "I think you and I are the strongest and most powerful males in this group. I think your rack is going to be as big as mine when The Season comes. I also think you and I will have the pick of the doe after the senior males."

"Then you see it as I see it," Guan said seriously. "There is one difference between you and me."

"I know more tricks than you do," he said.

"That was how you beat me because we are of nearly equal strength," Guan went on. "Can you teach me?"

"If you want," he said. "there is one thing you have to know."

"Go ahead," Guan said eyeing him carefully.

He felt he had to tell him the truth. "Because you are I are the best males here with the largest racks, when Man comes, you and I will be the first deer Man will try and kill."

Guan shook his head in approval. "I know that. I am not too afraid of Man. I know places to hide. What I am afraid of is the dogs Man brings. They can find me and chase me to a place where Man will kill me."

Good, he was thinking. "That is where you can help me. You know the best hiding places."

"I can show you those," Guan said.

"One other thing," he said. "The tricks I show you are just for us, not for the others. We will practice in private."

Just then he caught a whiff of scent. For a second he thought some male had followed them to overhear what they said, but the scent was coming from the wrong direction. He stiffened and turn to meet the intruder as he did. Guan took in another breath of air through his nose. "Mersin?" was all he said.

"You do have a good nose," the older deer's voice called to them. Soon Mersin walked out of the forest. He came up to a length of them.

"I saw your contest in the clearing. Then I saw you both come here. Forgive me, but I decided to try and overhear your talk."

With that Mersin turned to him and spoke up also plainly. "Enna, you are right, you two are the two strongest deer among the herd males and you two are the best fighters. Guan was right when he said your trick beat him. It is good you want to learn these tricks. Artose, the senior males and I all think it is time you two to start learning."

All he did was nod in appreciation and Guan bowed slightly.

"Enna is also correct when he says you and the senior males will be the deer Man wants most to kill. It is something about our racks he likes. Man wants them when they are at their full."

"Then why does he not wait until they fall out, he can have all the racks he wants without killing anyone?" he asked.

"I wish I knew the answer to that," Mersin said. "However, that is not why I am here. Starting tomorrow, after you both feed, come to the hill of the senior males and wait at the bottom. You will join the practice of the senior males. Be warned, expect to be kicked around, but you will learn what you need to know. Artose will also show you other things. You will need to learn these also. One final point, what you learn there, you keep to yourselves. Enna was right when he said this was training for you, not the other males."

"I understand," Guan said, "And I will do as you and Artose ask."

"As will I," he added.

"Good, we will expect you tomorrow night," Mersin said. "Now Guan I have something I need to talk to Enna about in private. Will you excuse us?"

"Yes," the big deer said and walked away back to the clearing. As soon as he was gone Mersin turned to him.

"Artose wants to know how are you doing? Mersin asked.

"Fine," he answered. "I feel better now.  Thanks to Artose, I understand and I feel better. I do not feel like an outsider now."

"Good," Mersin told him. "I have watched and noted you are taking more part with the herd males, but you still keep alone a lot."

"I think that is just part of who I am," he said.

"Well that is not a problem, " Mersin went on. "At least you show some care for the others. The rest will come in time. I know it did for Artose."

"Thank you." he said. "There is one thing I wanted to ask Artose, but forgot to."

"What is that?" Mersin looked at him funny.

He smiled. "I never did ask him if I could join the herd here. I would like to do so."

Mersin laughed, "I think Artose will let you. Welcome young male."

The next night both he and Guan went to the hill where Artose and the senior males lived. They waited until they heard noises up the hill. They both stood out in the open and waited for the males to come down. There was Galand, Lancin, Mersin and three other deer's whose name he did not know. Artose was last.

Artose looked at him. "I do not think you know some of my senior males. The tall shaggy one is Percin, the heavy one is Lamoc, and the thin one is Belar. These are all my senior males. This night we welcome two new three season males, Guan you all know, and Enna who is new to our forest. Each year at this time we practice our fighting skills, so we can keep order and protect the herd. Last Season we lost both Kalic and Boart to Man during the hunts. You two will replace them. Both of you are good fighters, but we must keep in practice. Lancin, you start with Guan, Lamoc will start with Enna.

He looked at Lamoc. The deer was not much bigger and him, but he was wider and heavier. The moment he locked shoulder with him he found out that extra size was extra muscle. Try as he could, he could not stop being pushed back. He tried getting position, feint attacks, leg sweeps; nothing worked and he kept getting pushed back.  Besides being strong as a bear, Lamoc was nearly as fast as he was and he knew all of his tricks. The big deer beat him, and beat him hard and repeatedly. Guan fared about as well against Lancin. Late in the evening he and Guan rested near each other. His side hurt, his ribs were sore, and he was bruised. He had not felt this way since his father had fought with him. His father had beat him until he could stand against him. The males here were the same way. These senior males were tough. He almost dreaded what was to come.

Next night he was paired with Lancin. The senior males took a seeming pleasure in kicking him and pushing him around. None of the senior males ever attacked him to hurt, but they made sure he knew when he was beaten. The following night he was paired with Galand. Strength wise they were a good match, but Galand was much quicker than Lamoc or even Lancin. His quickness allowed him to charge position faster than he could counter. Belar he found was not great in any one thing, but he was good in all things. He was fast, agile, strong and wise. Percin was the most skillful deer. Precision was his strength. He could position you or himself to block any move and put himself into the position of advantage and beat you that way. As fighting training continued, he had to admit, while he had always thought of himself as skilled, he was not when compared to these males. The fight training continued through spring and into early summer. At first all he and Guan he could do was not get beaten badly. Most of the time they were they were both pushed aside easily. Then after a while it was not so easy for them to be pushed. Artose and Mersin then showed them new tricks and new means to kick and how to keep the same from happening to you. They also showed different way of getting position. After a while the bruises were fewer, the exhaustion less, and he got to enjoy the training. Other than to be careful of their rack growing on their heads. He and the other males did not hold much back.

As summer came around, the training shifted. They did not practice every night. Instead both he and Guan would go out with Mersin and visits different parts of the forest. The other senior males did likewise. At first all they did was look at the herd. Mersin also talked to some birds mostly the eagles and the owls and ask them what they seen. Although Mersin did not teach it to them at first, he realized these trips were to show them how to see if there were any problems with the herd. One thing he did notice, none of the senior males or Artose himself gave many orders. Only when there was a problem did they intervein. Other than that, the deer were free to do as he please, and not just the deer. Artose was friends with the owls and eagles that flew and often would talk to them as well as raccoons and possums. Artose seem to know what was happening in this forest as soon as it happened. Most of the time the senior males, when they were not pushing him around, were out looking at the forest. It was interesting. Delos and Ellis never took the interest in the forest that Artose did. Both he and Guan were learning. He had to admit he liked Guan and the senior males.

One night Mersin, Guan and he were out looking at the forest close to where he had run away from Helscom's herd. A bird had told Mercin that there was shouting in Helscom’s forest. They walked quietly and came upon a rotten order of something dead. They followed it and found a yearling male that was torn apart by something.

"Bear," Mersin said. They looked and followed the trail back to the edge of the forest. Mersin looked around and then called them both over.

"Look, you can see where the male tried to get away. He ran from Helscom forest across the open field. The bear chased him. The male was slowed down in the soft dirt and the bear caught him there and killed them."

Mersin stepped out of the forest by several lengths and pointed his nose at a spot. It was filled with blood and the dead deer's scent.

"After the bear killed the male, he dragged it into our forest where we found it. After the bear ate his fill, he left. He might be back to finish with the scraps, or someone else might. We should leave before the same happens to us."

"This dead deer is not from our herd?" Guan asked.

"No, none of our herd males go here," Mersin answered. "There are few deer in this part of the forest. See the tracks in the dirt lead back across the field. The male came from Helscom forest. The bear came from the same place.

It was then he looked up across the open field and saw movement in the trees. There was also a crashing noise.

"Something is coming and it is big," he said out loud.

Both Mersin and Guan looked up and saw two figures run out of the trees. They were together and they were no bears.

"It is two doe," Guan said, "And they are running from something."

"Back into the forest," Mersin said and leaped back into the cover of the trees.

The two doe ran out across the field. They were running hard and running fast. They looked scared as if something was after them.  He watched them run across the field before they reached the softer dirt. That slowed them, but they continued to struggle to flee. He was watching the doe when Guan called out.

"Four males leaving Helscom's woods. It looks like they are chasing the doe. He looked up and saw four male deer running hard from the woods. Three were his size or smaller, one was as large as Artose.

"Those are senior males from Helscom's forest," Mersin said. "The big one is named Morkin and I do not know the other three. The two does must be trying to escape from them."

"Do we help them," Guan asked.

"Of course," Mersin said. "Wait until they reach the forest."

Even through were slowed by the soft ground, both doe ran into the forest well ahead of the four males. They were exhausted.

"Over here," Mersin called out

The two doe stumbled toward him. It was then he got a whiff of their scent.

Curri, Wanna," he yelled out.

Both doe turned toward him wondering who he was until Wanna called out "Enna."

"They both came to up to him, and fell against him; they were spent.

"Males are getting close," Guan said.

Mersin jumped over to them. "No time now, you doe run that way," he pointed with his nose and then looked at him and Guan. "You two hide downwind so they cannot smell you. I am going to tell them to leave, if they try and attack me, come out and hit them hard in the flank. We might have to hurt these deer."

The two doe ran away. Guan and him found some trees to hide behind and got down low. Then the four males ran into their forest.

"Spread out," Morkin called out. "Helscom wants those two doe back to make an example of them like the other one. Find them. They could not have gone far."

He watched the other three males spread out. Morkin came forward quietly. He was not expecting to almost run headlong into Mersin.

"Greetings,' Mersin said was a laugh. "I thought we told you to stay out of our forest."

"Mersin," Morkin spat out. "This does not concern you. We are chasing two escaped doe."

"Really," Mersin said as if it was funny. "Well, you are in my forest now. It concerns all of us now. You can leave right now. The doe belong to us."

"NO!" Morkin growled. "I am taking them back."

"I say you are not," Mersin said.

"I say there are four of us and one of you," Morkin said with an edge in his voice and turned to his three companions. "Surround him and kill him. Helscom will reward us with more doe if we kill this one."

Marcin pretended to backup out of fear, but all that did was bring the three other males closer to them. He waiting until one of the males looked like he smelled something of them before he put his head down and charged at the closest male. He hit the biggest male at full speed in the flank with his shoulder. He felt an impact that seem to loosen his teeth and blur his vision. There was a loud popping noise and the male he hit went flying onto the ground and did not move at once. Guan's deer was further away and had a chance to turn slightly. It did not matter Guan hit him hard and that male went flying. That deer hit the ground, rolled over and quickly got up and ran for his life. The one he hit was only slowly coming to his feet favoring his left side. As soon as he got to his feet his limped off slowly. Guan meanwhile had turned to face the other male and put his head down. That male, the smallest of the group, did not wait for anything else and ran in a panic back the way he came.

"I see only one deer now," Mersin said looking at Morkin with contempt. "Care to try me."

"Enna, Morkin killed Ila," he heard Curri yelled out.

He looked up wondering why they had come back when he saw another deer in between them. It was Lancin. He stepped up into a ready position to fight. "Artose sent me to bring you for a meeting," he told them. "I think now we will have other things to discuss."

He looked at Morkin backing away from Mersin. "You killed Ila, a helpless doe?" he said grimacing and slowly walked toward him.

"She was trying to get away. She had to be punished," Morkin told him.

"Care to try that on a deer who can fight back," he said and dropped his head.

"No not really," Morkin said and looked to be turning away, yet he saw the big deer plant his two rear feet solidly. He was going to charge and try to catch him off guard. He lunged forward first. Morkin countered so they hit with their rack, even though they were still in skin. It did not matter to him, he was angry. He had never fought a deer before when he was this angry He pushed forward, Morkin tried to get position either to push him back or stop him. Neither worked, he got down low and push up with all his strength and rage. He almost pushed the big deer over. Morkin went down, but spun away quickly to get up. That moment was all he needed. He kicked out hard with his front right foot turning it slightly so the edge went to the side. He hit Morkin under the chin and cut into him.

"BAAAAA! Mortkin shouted out. " You hurt me."

Before Morkin could regain his balance, he kicked out hard with his left front foot and cut him on the other side of the face. How he was bleeding badly on both sides of his face. He then lunged hard hitting the male as hard as he could He held nothing back. The impact was worse when he hit the first male. He was staggered for a moment, but when he cleared his head Morkin was lying senseless on the ground. He shook his head to clear it and walked over. He leaned over and put the points of his rack on the throat of the large male.

"I am not going to hurt you," he said with a manic glee. "I am going to gut you slowly and painfully. I just want you to know I am the deer that killed those other two worthless males in your herd and now I am going to kill you. That doe was a friend of mine, and you will never kill another one."

With that he started to press the points of his rack into the throat. They were dull, but he felt them penetrate the skin. Just then there was a gurgling noise followed by the strong smell of a deer who had emptied himself. He took a deep breath and then leaped backwards giving no room for Morkin to attack him. He then looked at the down deer now bleeding from his face and neck.

"GET UP," he yelled.

He waiting until Morkin staggered to his feet still dripping blood from his face and neck. The damage was serious, but he would not die from these wounds.  As Mokin tried to steady himself he walked up and looked the deer in the eye.

"Leave the forest," he yelled. "Do not ever come back. If I ever see you again, I will kill you myself."

With that he backed away. Morkin joined the other four males in leaving as fast as they could. In a while they were by themselves. He saw Mersin and Lancin both walk over toward him, before they could speak, he blurted out.

"I remember what Artose told me," he said trying to control his anger. "However, I tell you truthfully if I see that deer again, I will kill him, teaching or no teaching."

Lancin just smiled and nodded his head. No argument from him. Mersin just looked at him. "Perhaps that would be right. At least you did not kill him now, but I thought you were. I am proud of you and Artose will be proud of you. Now let us go talk to the others and find out what is happening here. Bring your two friends."

With that they all walked back as a group.

He stood in the clearing with Artose and the other senior males listening to Curri and Wanna tell their story. It was not an easy story for him to listen to. Both doe said that after he had left, what he told them would happen, did happen. The male fawn had gotten sicker and a pack of coyotes came after it. Laene and the others stayed and tried to fight them off. They failed. The pack killed the sick fawn, Laene's healthy fawn, and then Laene herself.  Tela and Asla fled into the deep forest with their fawns. They were never seen again. The three younger doe fled another way. They walked for two days and found Helscom herd. They were forced to join. When they complained, or did not do what they told, the senior males kicked and hurt them like all the other herd males and doe. Only Helscom and his senior males could do anything. The others had to obey. The three tried to escape, but were chased. While they were running, Ila slipped and fell and Morkin caught her. They heard him stomp on her several time and Ila scream out, but there was nothing they could do.

As they were telling their story he kept asking himself, what would have happened if he would have stayed.  When they were done, he dropped his lead low and started to walk away feeling almost sick to his stomach. He got about halfway down the hill when he heard footsteps behind him.

"Enna, wait," it was Artose with Mersin.

He stopped and the two large deer came up to him. "You blame yourself for this," Artose said a in compassionate voice. "Do not do this. What happened was not your fault. You told them what would happen and they did not listen. If you would have stayed with them, most likely you would be dead and eaten by now.  When they came to you for help, you stopped Morkin. You beat him badly. You could have killed him, but you did not. In that I am proud of you. You have earned your place."

He took a deep breath. He was not convinced. "I guess you are correct, herd leader, but I cannot help feeling what I feel." He then looked up. "I am also not sure I should not have killed Morkin. At least he would never kill another doe again. I will tell you this. If I do see him again in this forest, I will kill him, despite your teachings."

Artose shook his head. "You know I dislike unnecessary killing, but yes if Helscom or his males come back here to hurt this herd, then yes, we will kill them. I will not have them hurt this herd. Now what are you going to do?"

He looked up at the tops of the trees. "Go back to my resting place. It will soon be light. Try to sleep."

Artose smiled, "Your two doe friends, they told me what you had told them when you were staying with them. You are not the same deer now as you were then. Perhaps you should tell them that."

He felt like laughing. "Why should they listen to me after what has happened?"

"Have you asked them?" Mersin said. "With that he let out a bark. A short while later both Curri and Wanna slowly walked down the hill.

"You three need to talk," Artose told him. "Tomorrow night come back and see me."

With that both deer glided off silently away from him. He watched the two doe come up to him. They both looked timid and somewhat afraid. He knew he was the cause of that. He let them approach.

"Can we talk to you," Wanna said hesitantly.

"Of course, In fact I want to talk to you both," he said in a low voice.

"Are you still angry at us?" Curri asked timidly.

He shook his head no. "I am angrier at myself," he said and lowered his head. "I should not have talked to you like I did before, but I was afraid of what would happen. I also think I might have stopped this if I stayed, but I did not want to get attached to a family. I felt differently now than I felt then."

"How?" Wanna asked.

He stopped for a moment and thought before he tried to explain. "Then I felt that since the forest did not care about me, I would care about nothing. Since coming here Artose has taught me that since the forest does not care about any of us, that makes all free to feel what we want to in order to please ourselves. I no longer care what the forest thinks. I will feel what I want for my own reason and to please myself."

"You do not dislike us as before?" Curri asked.

"No," he told her.

"Do you think you can feel for us?" Wanna asked.

He looked at both doe. They were now two-season doe. Both had filled out. Both were nice looking, but they were not beautiful. For a second he felt the desire to breed them both when the time came, but that would come later.

"Yes, I think I can feel for both of you," he said. "Before you both asked if you could sleep with me and I sent you away. If you want to, I like to sleep with you now, but only if you want. I will not force you."

The eyes of both doe lit up. "Yes," they both said together and came up to him and kissed him on both sides of his face. He kissed both passionately and felt the warmth inside him grow. He then pulled away. "When the time comes, I will breed both of you. I want you two to have my fawns in the spring, but again, this is only if you want."

They both looked at him, dark eyes glowing in the faint light. They did not have to answer. "Come with me," he told then and he led them to the top of the open hill.

The next night he had come alone back to the hill where Artose and the senior males lived. He waited as usual at the bottom of the hill. A few moments later Guan came up and sniffed the air around him. "You now have two," he said with a grin. "You are a lucky deer."

"Well you can get any doe you want from the female herd," he told him. "They are all yours now that I have what I want."

They herd rustling from the hill and shortly all the senior males and Artose walked down the hill. Thinking this was going to be another training session he got himself ready to practice.

The others did something different that night. Instead of breaking up and choosing sparing partners, Artose and Mersin stood in front of them and the others stood on either side almost surrounding them.

Artose stepped forward. "Guan, Enna, we have all been discussing what has happened. All of us agree that now is the time. We all think you two should join us as senior males for this herd. You would live here on the hill, or where ever you want. As you know several of us have one or two doe we pair with year-round. Your doe are welcomed here too."

He was surprised but knew they had not been trained for nothing. He now looked around. It be nice to help with this herd. He felt a purpose here for the first time in his life.

"I agree and thank you," Guan said and bowed his head.

"I also agree and offer my thanks," he repeated.

He was home.

 

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