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The prey climbed higher. Up the trunk, onto a branch forking almost vertically away. Blood poured out of it, trickling down the bark at times, sprinkling below like rain at others. It sat in the fork, its limbs dangling over the sides of the branch like dead vines. It shouted something. I didn’t hear what it was. It was too high up, the others near me too loud. But it was probably a cry for help.

This area is a little far from the fire. The smoke is still there, permanently marking the fire’s location. Like a beacon drawing in all food. Will the fire last the day and night? I won’t be there to feed it. But if I leave, I’ll be alone, the others attracted to this prey. That’s dangerous. Traveling in groups is required. If I encounter prey by myself, I’ll die. Maybe I can kill prey if they’re alone. But prey never travel alone either. They’re like me, seeking safety in numbers even though they’re willing to abandon one another with ease. I’d abandon others too if it meant I would live.

The prey took something out of its bag. It’s hard to see. It also lifted the protection on its head, the flat panel sticking out, away from the glossy dome. The object in the prey’s hand was rectangular. Like a black brick. But it had something sticking out of a corner. A black finger? The prey brought the object next to its mouth, opening, closing its lips. Was it eating? There wasn’t any contact between the black brick and the prey’s teeth. There was no smell either. The prey was speaking then. Speaking into the black box. Why?

The blood coming down the tree was slowing. The trickles pulsing with droplets less often. The prey was running out of blood. Or it was healing, its bleeding stopped. Maybe the wound was pressed against the tree, preventing blood from leaking out. Is that possible? Applying pressure to a wound to stop it? With others, yes. Their blood is thick, ooze-like. Stopping it from leaving is easy. But the blood of prey is loose. Free. It spurts, sputters. But others and prey are the same. Perhaps it takes more pressure for prey to stop bleeding. But it should be possible. Testing will be difficult. The others will be attracted. But I have a perfect subject right here. Do prey recover from arrow wounds that quickly? Or is it only stopping the flow of blood? Planting another arrow inside of it will bring me closer to the truth.

Twang.

The arrow missed. Badly. The distance is further than I’m used to. No, it’s not that. It’s the height difference. Like everything, the arrow is attracted to the ground. Shooting it up is difficult compared to shooting it down. It doesn’t reach as far as it should, losing power much quicker. I’ll keep that in mind. When shooting something, shoot from a higher vantage point for the greatest efficiency. Shooting on the same plane is okay. But not great. And shooting up puts me at a disadvantage. That also means I shouldn’t confront prey with arrow shooters if they’re higher up. If they build fences around a hill, it may be difficult to invade during the day. But at night, with no light, it should be fine. Even prey can’t shoot what they can’t see.

Twang.

Very difficult. The prey’s voice increased. But I still can’t hear what it’s saying. Why is it speaking into the black box? I want to know. But I don’t think I’ll find out. Some things aren’t intuitive. Pulling handles is very intuitive. Placing an arrow against a string, pulling said string, releasing the arrow, not intuitive at all. I only learned from watching. But watching this prey speak into a black box with nothing happening, I can’t figure it out. After the prey dies, when the box is in my hands, maybe I’ll know.

Twang.

Still difficult. My arm is getting stiffer, the string not pulling back as far. There is definitely a correlation. My aim goes down, the arrow shooter gets harder to use. But why does my arm become stiff? And how do I make it less stiff? Is it permanent? I hope not. I’ll stop shooting for now, in case it gets worse. Finding out whether the prey heals quickly or if it has a method to prevent bleeding is unimportant. Prey die when their brains are taken out. Like everything else. Bleeding is only important for hunting. And the smell lingers when the flow stops unless its masked. Like earlier, the glass cylinder filled with stink sauce. The rotting goop the prey used to deceive the others. If it weren’t for me, it would’ve worked. I wonder why it isn’t using more, pouring it down the tree, into the mouths of the others. That’d stop them. Maybe it ran out.

Now that I think about it, is there a way to knock this tree down? The fire is fed with wood. Trees are made of wood. How did the prey turn trees into those neat logs to feed the fire with? They must’ve knocked down the trees. By pressing? It doesn’t seem like it. The others are swarming the tree. There’s no signs of it falling down, not even a little bend. Pressing isn’t it. Shaving? Like how I used the tool with the metal end to create spikes, shaving away at the wood. That must be it. They shaved away bits of the tree until it fell. But with the earth-turning tool? That’d take a long time. The fire would eat more than they could produce. Unless I’m using the tool incorrectly. And I can’t go back to retrieve it. I’d be alone. Is there anything else I can use? The metal stick? The arrow shooter? No. These don’t shave. They bash. They’d have to be flatter, like the end of the earth-turning tool. Wasn’t there something else? Yes. In one of the tents, there was another thing, maybe a tool like the earth-turning one. But smaller, the metal flat and focused on one side. I tried using it to make holes. But it didn’t work as well, so I left it alone. I should’ve tested it more thoroughly. And I should’ve brought it with me. I can’t carry that many things by myself. But I’m not alone. Like the ropes, the others can carry the tools. If they won’t carry them, I’ll tie the tools to them with rope.

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Virlyce

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