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Twang!

I already missed four arrows. The fifth one is bound to hit. And it did. The prey weren’t ready. The big one couldn’t use the dead one as a shield. The one with the box was too preoccupied with the white cloth. It didn’t use its bag as a shield like it did before. The other prey with the injured hip was the only one that reacted. It jumped to the side. But it didn’t matter; I wasn’t aiming for it.

The arrow struck the prey with the white cloth, the one that dodged my arrows, baiting me into shooting at it. The prey yelled, falling onto its side. The arrow had pierced through its body from the front to the back. It almost went all the way through. But the feathered part was stuck inside, the arrow hanging out of its back. The prey were shouting. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. But the big one grabbed the dead one, ready to guard again.

I’m not going to shoot. I only have one arrow left. But the prey don’t know that. They don’t know the exact number of arrows I have. They wouldn’t have let their guard down if they did. Now, all three prey are injured: one stepped on a spike trap. One was shot in the hip. The last was hit in the stomach. But it’s odd. The one hit in the stomach, its injury is worse than the rest. The other two could stand after being injured. This one can’t. It’s lying on the ground, letting out little whimpers. At least they sound like whimpers. It’s too far to tell.

The prey with the bow, it was readying to shoot me. But the prey on the ground lifted an arm. The bow lowered. A shame. More arrows would’ve helped. They’re hard to make. I can find straight sticks, sharpen them. But they don’t fly straight when I shoot. I think it’s the feathers at the end. That’s the only difference between the ones I make and the prey’s. The big one grabbed the front of the arrow sticking out of the injured prey’s back. It hesitated. The injured prey let out a scream when the big one pulled the arrow out.

I didn’t think a shot to the stomach would be so effective against prey. The stomach is where food goes. It doesn’t play a role in movement. The big prey’s foot is damaged, the bow-using prey’s hip has part of an arrow in it. But those two can still move. Despite the stomach not being important, the prey lying on the ground can’t move. The two prey are tugging on its arms, lifting its torso up. Is this another chance? The big one’s using one arm to help the injured one. I don’t think it can manage the shield with only one hand. Yes, it’s a perfect chance.

But which one do I aim for? I only have one arrow. The big one, I want it as an other with as intact arms and legs as possible. If I shoot its stomach, if it’s similar to the prey on the ground, it should stop moving. The prey on the ground, there’s no point in using another arrow on it. It can’t do anything without the help of its companions. That leaves the prey with the bow. It’s dangerous. It can kill me. It almost did. Without my dome, there’d be an arrow in my brain. But if I shoot it, the big one can escape. But if I don’t shoot it, it can kill me. The choice is obvious then. If I’m dead, it doesn’t matter if I can catch the big one.

Twang!

I didn’t need to think that hard. My last arrow missed. It didn’t hit any of the prey, not even the one on the ground. It grazed the bow-using prey’s dome. But grazing doesn’t matter. Unless the prey shoots at me, gives me another arrow, I can’t do anything to them. The bow-using prey has no intentions of shooting me, only staring, waiting to see if I’ll shoot again. The big one is waiting too. A shame. If the prey are going to retreat, I can’t stop them. I can climb the fence, chase them with a metal stick or spear. But that’ll get me killed. Even if they’re injured, it’s three prey against one of me.

Wait. What if I copy the prey? The prey baited me into shooting arrows at it. Can I do the same? The bow-using prey isn’t shooting at me because it doesn’t want to give me arrows. But it wanted to until the prey on the ground raised its arm to stop it. Why? It wanted to kill me. Is it the dome? Perhaps, if I take the dome off, is that enough to goad the prey into shooting me? I’ll try it. I placed my hands against the bottom of the dome, pushed it up, off of my head.

Is that enough? The prey with the bow dropped the injured prey’s arm. It might be. It stood up, readied its bow. But the prey on the ground touched its leg, distracting it. They seemed to be talking, staring at each other. The prey on the ground was shaking its head, telling it no. But the prey with the bow was fiddling with an arrow, preparing the bow to shoot. A little more. What else can I do to provoke the prey? One more push is enough to make it shoot.

Other than killing me, what did the prey want to accomplish? Breaking the spikes, saving the prey impaled on the fence. But it’s already dead. That’s why they retreated, along with the threat I presented by pointing my bow at the big one. Why did the prey come in the first place? Food? There’s no time to enter the food-preservation room. If I disappear from its view, the prey will have even less of a reason to shoot. And the others might swarm into the room, eating my hard work. I can’t let that happen. But isn’t there food right there? On the fence? The prey were forced back, unable to get it off. What if I taunted them? Took the food while they were watching? I know I’d be annoyed if others stole my food—annoyed enough to kill them.

But first, I have to pry the prey loose from the fence. A spear can do that. I lowered the bow, grabbed a spear. It’s long enough to stab past the spikes on the fence. It’s long enough to poke the prey off the fence too. Like this.

Thwip.

That familiar sound. I ducked. An arrow struck the wall behind me. As I thought, getting food in front of them makes them want to kill me.

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Virlyce

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