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Chapter Five: Derry and Merce meet their new neighbors... ROUGH DRAFT!
Chapter Five

As we neared the elm tree I could just see a dark corner of the tunnel entrance, and purred at the thought of crawling down to the nest and sleeping the rest of the day away. But Derry stopped a few feet from the tunnel, sitting on his haunches and looking out over the meadow. I stopped short of my destination and stared at the rabbit, “Aren't you coming, Derry?” I asked.

“Not yet,” he answered, “I think I'll go and see about these newcomers. They seem to have made themselves at home.”

As I'd done before, I braced my forepaws on Derry's back and managed to see the herd. The did look very comfortable, several of them were laying in the grass and most of the others stood grazing. There was even a little foal, that I could just make out from our distance.

“I'll be back,” Derry announced, dropped to all fours and went hopping out toward the deer.

It wasn't long before I lost sight of him, and I turned to the tunnel... but a sense of curiosity made me pause, and almost without thinking I turned and raced after the rabbit. I couldn't see him, but his scent was strong and easy to follow. I went through the meadow as fast as I could, stumbling through the thick grass at times, until I came to a place where the grass had been worn, chewed and flattened.

“Oisin, there's a kit,” I heard from above me, and looked straight up to see the looming face of one of the herd's does.

“One of yours, perhaps,” came the deep, gruff voice of the black-tailed buck, and I turned to see him talking with Derry.

The rabbit came bounding over, nearly stood on top of me, and said a simple “Thank you,” to the deer. He then shoved me in the direction of the buck saying, “This way, Merce,” and we made our way over to the massive creature. All the strange faces were now looking at me, wide-eyed in wonder.

“I'm so sorry about that,” Derry said, “Oisin, this is Merce... I didn't realize he'd followed me.”

“Have I lost my mind, or is that a young cat?” the deer asked, his voice sounding sharper and more alert than it had the first time he'd spoken.

“Yes he's a cat,” Derry answered, “He was orphaned when the Sango dogs attacked his clowder, my mate and I have taken him in.”

“You Kero creatures are so odd,” the deer declared, his voice wavering with laughter. “Here you are with a killer in your nest, liable to wake one morning and find your own litter eaten. You've destroyed your own warren before it's even really started. I suppose if I were Kero there would be a cougar in my herd!”

“No, I doubt there'd be a “cougar in your herd” but I imagine you'd have a bit more tact!” Derry grunted in protest. “We may be odd, but we help each other out... sometimes we even help those who should be enemies. It's called kindness, or compassion, and quite frankly I hope you choke on it!”

The deer shook his great head, the tree branch-like antlers narrowly missing a collision with Derry's head. But the rabbit didn't flinch, and I found myself in awe at his courage.

“Do you plan on being rotten to every potential friend, or is it just the Kero in particular you have a problem with?” Derry jeered.

The deer snorted overhead and, without warning, one of his hooves came driving at me. I hissed and scrambled for safety, only to be pulled out of harms way by Derry, who proceeded to bite and scratch at the assaulting limb.

The deer pulled back with a grunt, “You want some friendly advice?” he said, “Kill that thing before it kills you! You'll find I'm willing to be a friend when you show you have some common sense.”

With that, Derry nudged me back in the direction of the burrow, and we headed back home. We were silent, and traveled rather slowly, a bit weighed down by thought. I hadn't expected the deer to be so hostile, afterall, my uncle had always been friendly with the herd that passed through the Sageco territory. But then, perhaps those had been Kero deer.

“Don't let him get to you,” Derry whispered, breaking the silence. “That “Oisin” character is just trying make trouble.”

“So, you wouldn't feel safer if... if, say... I went to live with Radha and her kits? I know you and Enni talked about it before,” I replied.

Derry stopped, turning his face to mine, “Safer?” he echoed, “Merce, I'd be sick with worry! You're family now and that's all there is to it, now come along.”

Silence fell again, and not another word was spoken until we got down the tunnel. Then Enni asked how the day had gone, and what had taken us so long. Derry began answering her questions, and I yawned and stretched my way into the nest with the other kits. I was just about to curl up when Enni took me by the scruff and pulled me out. I mewed in objection, and was soon set down.

“Don't fuss,” she scolded, “You're filthy, and I won't have you getting dirt all over the others. Now go on, Derry, what were saying about the foxes?” And with that she started grooming.

I fell asleep right there, I was so tired, and only woke up briefly when someone moved me back into the nest. Then I curled up at last, nestled in between the little rabbits, and dozed off once more.

{Thanks for reading! Please remember this is only a rough draft... I have not gone through it to properly edit it, it's very short, and it may change significantly before being published. That said, all honest reviews are welcome!}
© Copyright 2018 Brittany L. Engels (valordogs at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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