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I couldn’t hear the others approaching. The prey were too loud. But I saw them coming from my spot on the hill. Like the mindless followers they were, they were tricked into going after the sound. At this rate, they’ll all die. Without me guiding them, they don’t stand a chance. The trench will stop most of them. The fence will stop the rest. They’ll die to the prey before the day ends. There isn’t much I can do. I can’t make more noise than that many prey. Now that the prey have attracted the others’ attentions, this assault is inevitable.

But isn’t that what I was preparing for? It’s time to push the trees down, before the others walk into the trench. Eight trees, I wonder if that’s enough. If I’m lucky, the first tree will roll down the hill, plug in the trench, let the others walk across it. The second tree will roll down the hill, over the first tree, into the fence, knocking it down. The other trees will follow, destroying the prey’s buildings. But that’s if I’m lucky. I don’t know if these trees will even roll. They’re not smooth. Unlike the trees that the prey had, these trees still have their branches.

But it’s my only option. I put away my bone saw, took out my hole-digging tool. I wedged the tip of the tool into the cut portion of the tallest tree. Once it was in place, I pushed down. The tree groaned. Slowly, slowly, the tree tilted towards the garrison. I kept pushing down. The groaning turned into cracking. Then, there was one final crack. There wasn’t anymore pressure on the hole-digging tool. The handle was pushed into the ground. The tree toppled, falling.

I released the hole-digging tool, stood up straight. The tree didn’t act like I hoped. The best-case scenario didn’t happen. The tree didn’t even roll. But something odd happened. The tree fell straight, straight onto the fence of the garrison. I didn’t think it was that tall. But it was. A few prey were crushed by the branches and leafy parts of the tree. The prey were shouting before. But they were screaming now. There’s a slight difference in tone. One is more desperate, less controlled. The garrison’s fence was only partially collapsed, only the two sections on either side of the fallen tree. And the part the tree fell on. If the others were agile enough, they could walk on the tree, cross the trench. But they aren’t. Maybe Agile Other is. But Agile Other is sluggish after eating.

To let the others cross, I’ll push down the rest of the trees. Maybe they can cross if the whole trench is covered. Maybe more sections of the fence will collapse. I won’t know until I try. I took the hole-digging tool, moved to the tree next to the stump the first one left behind. I wedged it into the gap, pushed down on the handle. Like the first one, the second tree groaned, then cracked, then toppled over. Unlike the first tree, it didn’t reach the fence. The top of the tree reached the trench. But while it was falling, it hit the first tree, pushing it down the hill, forcing its tip further into the garrison. The first tree had fallen with a gap underneath it from the top of the hill to the garrison. Now, it was almost flush to the ground. It was still raised, the tree stopping since it hit a building inside.

The second tree didn’t have the impact I wanted it to. But it helped position the first tree better. What will the rest of the trees do? I moved on, wedged the hole-digging tool into the tree closest to the fallen two. When I was pushing down, an arrow bumped into my leg. It didn’t even break through my clothes. I didn’t hear it coming; the sounds were too loud even though the prey stopped screaming. But I was too far, too high up for the arrow to do actual damage. It lost all its power by the time it reached me. I ignored it, pushed down on the hole-digging tool even more.

The third tree fell. It wasn’t as tall as the first. But it was taller than the second. The top landed on the fence. It was still at an angle, like the first tree when it fell, a gap underneath it and the ground. I descended the hill a bit, wedged the hole-digging tool against the butt of the tree. I pulled. But the tree didn’t budge. It was too heavy. It seemed like only another tree falling on top of it could force it forward, off the hill. I want the back portion of the trees to be closer to the bottom of the hill. That way, the tree trunks will be flat, straight, easier to for the others to cross. With the added angle, the others have to climb to get on top. And they can’t do that.

Another arrow flew through the air. It bumped into my chest. Then it fell to the ground. The prey down below were pointing at me. Two prey were climbing the tops of the fallen trees. Were they trying to reach me by following the tree? I’ll angle the fourth tree, make it fall onto the trunks of the first three. That way, it’ll knock the incoming prey off while pushing the trees down the hill.

But that was easier said than done. The tree fell straight, along the lines I cut it with. The little bit of angle I tried to add didn’t matter. Like the second tree, it wasn’t tall enough to reach the fence, just tall enough to cover the trench with its leafy parts. The incoming prey were halfway up the second tree. They were climbing it by hugging the trunk, inching up. Since I couldn’t knock them down with the fourth tree, it didn’t seem likely I’d knock them down with the fifth. By the time I push down the fifth tree, they’d reach the top of the hill. My bow is the simplest way to deal with them.

I put the hole-digging tool down, grabbed my bow, loaded it with an arrow. The prey scrambled up the trunk faster when they saw me. But it wasn’t fast enough. I fired my bow. The arrow hit the first prey. And it let go of the tree. It dropped through the air, then onto the hill before rolling all the way down. The second prey saw me ready another arrow. It let go of the tree, stood up, then ran down the trunk, flailing its arms, somehow keeping its balance as it zoomed away. I wasn’t expecting that. But it was easier to run down a slope than up. There’s still four trees left. Will they be enough to help the others get into the garrison?

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Virlyce

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