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The prey know of my existence. They know they lost three prey to me. They know I listen to their voices through the black box. So why? Why haven’t the prey done anything? The message still comes through the black box. Come from the south, the herd is heading north. Are the prey giving up? Giving me free prey to eat? I’m in the south, digging traps while waiting. But nothing’s happening. Maybe, the prey have another black box that connects to different ones. The information I’m getting could be different from the ones prey are getting. It’s impossible for me to know.

Or the prey aren’t coming since it’s night. They get sluggish, resting in beds. Then I have to wait for morning. Is making traps all I can do? No, I can scout the garrison. If it’s night, are the prey with bows still waiting by the fence? I’m far enough away from the garrison that the sound of the others shuffling and groaning don’t reach the prey inside. That also means I can’t hear the prey. It’s a long walk to the garrison. But I have time. Maybe I’ll find a way inside during the night. It was too well-defended during the day. Even if I don’t find a way in, I can stick to the same plan. Hunt the prey outside. Wait for the prey inside to come out, leave their defenses behind.

It took a while to arrive at the garrison. I crawled to avoid tripping. I didn’t want to shine a light, in case prey noticed. The south of the garrison, there’s a hill overlooking it. The view is much better here. There’s tall trees that I can climb for an even higher vantage point. At night, the garrison looks the same. There are still prey with bows waiting around the fence. But there’s less prey wandering around. I suppose most are resting in the buildings. If I wanted to approach the garrison without being noticed, it might be possible. The fire inside the garrison lights up the prey. But there’s nothing over here producing light. I don’t think the prey can see me. Then why are the prey with bows waiting around outside? There aren’t any ropes with metal on them, nothing to produce sound. Is there something else that alerts them? I want to check by approaching. But it’s dangerous. An unknown method of detection; I won’t know how to avoid it. Then I’ll be shot at by arrows. How tricky.

Is there no way inside? It doesn’t look like it. Actually. There’s a hill. There’s tall trees on top. Haven’t I encountered a situation like this? When I brought the others to attack the building on top of the slope, the prey stopped the others by rolling trees down. Can I break the fence if I roll trees down? The trench might be a problem. But it might not be. If I cut down all the trees on top of this hill, a few trees might fill the gap, the rest crossing over to knock over the fence. Yes, it might work. It’s a good thing I encountered those earlier prey. Their ideas are useful. I’ll cut these trees. But the wood-cutting tool is too loud; the prey might notice. I’ll have to use the bone saw. It’s quieter. But it’s slower too. But that doesn’t matter; I have plenty of time.

I’ll cut these trees to the point where I only need to push for them to fall over. If not a push, I can put the hole-digging tool into the cut, then step down on the tool’s handle, forcing the trees to fall. I’ve cut down a few trees before, to test the wood-cutting tool while waiting for my food to preserve. It’s easier to cut out a small piece of wood on the side I want it to fall, then cut a line from the opposite side. But it’s difficult. The bone saw is small, the trees large. There’s not a lot of room to move the saw back and forth. This is going to take a while, a lot longer than I first expected. But it still doesn’t matter. I have food. I have time. As long as it’s dark, I can continue.

I don’t know how long it took to get one tree ready to fall. I didn’t count. But I ate before I started. And I’m not hungry now. It couldn’t have taken too long. I still wasn’t hungry by the second tree. Or the third. After the fourth, I needed to eat. I don’t think the prey noticed me. I was the only one making sounds throughout the night. But they never shined a light up to check. And if they can’t see me, they don’t know I’m cutting trees. When I got to the eighth tree, the sun was rising. As long as I crouch behind the tree to saw, they can’t see me. It makes cutting even slower. But that’s fine. I’ll make this tree my last, then return to the others, see if I can catch any prey today.

When I was almost done readying the tree, a large sound came from the garrison. Lots of shouting, lots of banging. Lots of noise. What was going on? I finished up the last few strokes with my saw. Then I put it away. I poked my head out from behind the tree in case they noticed me, ready to shoot me with an arrow. But they weren’t. The prey were inside the garrison, all of them gathered around the south area. They were standing like a herd of infected with their hands cupped around their mouths. And they were shouting. A few prey were standing next to the fence, banging on it with metal sticks. It’s almost as if they were trying to attract all the others in the area to them. But why? No, it makes sense for them to do that. Instead of leaving their defenses to fight the others, the prey are luring the others to their advantageous position. The thought of prey controlling my others with sound never crossed my mind at all. How dare they.

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Virlyce

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