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There were lots of bent trees. There were some small trees that weren’t bent. But bits of rope still dangled from them. The sticks were arranged underneath them too. Perhaps young trees start off bent, tethered to the ground by the rope. When its rope is harvested, it grows upright. Or when it grows enough, the rope no longer holds it down. None of the bigger trees are bent. It makes sense. Do all trees produce rope when they’re small? That’s a lot of rope. No wonder why the prey have so much.

But why haven’t I seen any trees with ropes until now? Are the prey here lazy at harvesting it? Or maybe, they’re purposely cutting down young trees, having them constantly produce rope. Similar to how I want to find out where prey come from to constantly produce food. Yes, if I had the idea, prey had it too. It just goes to show, these prey are much more advanced than all the previous prey I’ve encountered. Rope producing setups, armored clothes, domes to protect their heads, long-range communication. I’m not sure I can do this anymore. Will there be enough others? Is there a certain point where numbers no longer beat smarts? I haven’t reached it yet if there is.

I’m curious now. How did the prey fortify their position? Other than these pit traps, I haven’t seen anything to stop others. Will they have a fence like the first group of prey? It seems unlikely. These prey wouldn’t use something as shoddy as that. The fence was easy to take down from the outside. I want to see. But I can’t be impatient. Gathering more others comes first. But I should take a look, observe, estimate how many others I’ll need. No. Not yet. It doesn’t matter. If I check and need to gather more, it’s a waste of time. If I gather all the others and check, it won’t be a waste to have excess others. The more others there are, the safer I am. And if there aren’t enough, I can leave then, search for more, or give up completely depending on how dangerous it looks.

Hundreds of rope trees later, I made a full circle. The ropes took a long time to harvest. I’m sure I made a full circle because there aren’t anymore ropes on trees. The strange stick arrangements are still on the ground, so these trees must’ve been harvested by me already. The number of others I’ve found is greater than it’s ever been. Over two hundred others. Were there really that many prey who’ve died in this area? It must be the case, or there wouldn’t be two hundred others following me. It was odd though. They came all at once. Over a hundred at a single time from the same direction. Perhaps a whole camp of prey died, wandering around together. With no one smart like me to eat their brains, they must’ve all come back. I suspect God is in the direction they came from. But he doesn’t seem like the type of person to stick around in one place. If I investigate, I won’t find him. But it’s reassuring to know he’s close by. I’ll encounter him sooner or later.

The others are loud. I’m not banging my weapons together. But the others footsteps are deafening. It’s a disadvantage that comes with having large numbers. Is there a way to soften their footfalls? Maybe. But it’s most likely too late. There’s no reason for the prey to not have heard us by now. I’m lucky. There are lots of pit traps. And there are enough dead others inside to plug the others’ noses, preventing them from falling for more pit traps. Removing their sense of smell, one of their only redeeming features, it’s a gamble. The prey know others have a keen sense of smell, they’ll abuse that knowledge. Maybe while we’re fighting, they’ll try to distract the others. Removing it now is a safe option. But it leaves the others reliant on their hearing. Prey can hide more easily. It’s a fair trade.

Aside from the rotten brains, there’s the spikes. These spikes are the same as the ones from before. While the prey are more advanced, the traps that are already effective didn’t change. There’s not much to improve about spikes. They stab. That’s it. Maybe something will make them stab better. But that’d be wasteful when they already stab well enough. It’s a shame the prey won’t put something that can stab through the glass dome in here. That’d be nice. Still, these spikes are enough. There’s over a hundred others who need these tied to them. I wonder, can I tie spikes to other parts of them? Make them more effective? I don’t think so. Others mainly use their mouths to bite, their hands to grab. No other part makes contact. Adding more would be detrimental.

I’m dumb. I thought I was smart. I should’ve taken the spikes from the traps while I was harvesting the ropes. So much wasted time. At least there are lots of spikes in one trap. I won’t have to go through so many of them. But it wasted enough time for the sun to start disappearing. How am I supposed to observe the prey in the dark? Shine a light at them? That’ll reveal my location. But with all the noise the others have made, don’t they already know I’m here? But will the prey even be getting food in the dark? From what I’ve seen, prey behave like how others behave in the sun when it’s dark: slow, sluggish. It’ll ruin my original purpose: seeing how prey consistently obtain sustenance. Does this mean I have to wait for the sun to rise? That’s a lot of time to wait. Is there anything I can do in that time? Waiting idly, I don’t like it. My food source expires too quickly. I need to eat too much, too often. Wasting time, I can’t afford to do that. What do I do?

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Virlyce

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