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The prey are up to something strange again. Like I thought, observing prey is the best way to learn. But what exactly are they doing? Eight prey are waiting outside the room, lining the exit. If I step out, they’ll stab me. They’re hiding from view, not letting me shoot them with my bow. The rest of the prey scattered, leaving me with no targets to aim at. They’re getting burning logs from the fire. If I can believe what the prey said. They already know I can understand them. They might be trying to trick me, saying false things to get me to react.

What should I do? The prey want to keep me in here. They wouldn’t be waiting outside to stab me. Then, are they going to force me to leave? Throw the burning logs inside? Burn down the building. I thought they wouldn’t do it, ruin their own territory. But it seems like they will. Then, before the prey return with the fire, I have to leave now. There’s eight prey waiting for me once I leave, spears ready to stab. But if I wait here, the eight prey will still be here. And the other prey will return with the fire. My best chance of escaping is now. But where will I run to? It doesn’t matter. Anywhere is better than here. I can go to one of the more important buildings. Which one did they save? The one near the fire. The other prey may be gathered around there. But that’s the place they’re least likely to burn down.

But first, I have to survive. Eight prey. How? I can’t use the chokepoint. They aren’t going to step inside. I have to fight them in the open. Eight armored prey with spears. Impossible. I’ll die. But if I wait here, am forced out, I’ll die a more guaranteed death. Can I cut my way out? Escape through the door that the prey barricaded? I don’t think there’s enough time. The fire isn’t that far from here. I only had time before because the prey left me alone. Then, I should prepare. There’s clothes hanging inside this room. I don’t have a lot of time. I’ll take the thicker ones, wear them. Even the tiniest amount of protection matters. It’s hard getting them to fight over my already thick clothes. But the prey aren’t coming to stop me. Once I put these on, I’ll exit. Fight the eight prey before the other prey return. I can’t count on another group of prey to save me, can’t count on any others. I can only rely on myself. I haven’t died yet. I won’t die now.

There was a shield that one prey left behind. I grabbed it, lifted it with my left arm. It was bulky. Good. With this, I don’t have to worry about my left side. My bag is thick. Spears shouldn’t pierce through all the meat inside of it. The only vulnerable spots are the back of my legs, the right side of my body, part of my torso. Should I use a spear? Or a knife? The spear has longer reach. But once the prey are close, I’ll be helpless, unable to even use my left hand. The knife prevents that. I might be attacked from far away. But I can always get close. The knife, I’ve gotten more kills with it too. It’s much more effective than the spear. I’ll use the knife.

All my preparations are set. If I die, I die. It’ll be unfortunate. But everything dies. Prey. Others. Why would I think I’m the exception? That doesn’t mean I won’t struggle my hardest to live. There’s eight prey, four on each side. With the shield on my left, I don’t have to worry about the prey on the left. I charged out, making sure to guard my side.

“Stab it!”

I pressed myself to the wall of the building, holding my shield at an angle. Only two of the prey could attack my body. I ran, keeping myself pressed against the wall, deflecting the spear strike from the furthest prey of the two attackers. The prey closest to me, aimed for my right shoulder. Predictable. There weren’t any other good spots to attack. Since I knew it was coming, I dove down and forward towards its feet. Its spear struck my bag. My knife stabbed into its thigh. I pulled the knife out while standing up. Spears thudded against my shield, almost knocking me off balance. The prey that I had stabbed was retreating towards the other prey. Perfect. It left a gap behind to escape through.

I rushed forward. The prey were shouting. Which way was the fire? To my right. The prey were still chasing behind me. Their spears were stabbing into my bag. I was holding my shield slightly behind myself at an angle, protecting my legs. My front was wide open. But there wasn’t any prey in the front. Should I be running to the fire? Well, there weren’t many other places to go. The prey are catching up. Able to stab at me even though I’m running as fast as I can. If I change directions now, I’ll slow down. I can only run in a straight line to stay a little ahead. But there’s prey coming towards me from the front now. They must’ve heard the shouts. They’re not carrying weapons. No shields either. Only burning pieces of wood. If they had spears, I’d be hesitant to approach. But fire only melts my skin, burns off my fingernails. It won’t kill me. It’s almost harmless.

The prey must’ve realized it too. They threw the pieces of wood at me. Then they ran to the side, out of my way. I didn’t care about the wood. I stepped towards it, on it, over it. It wasn’t very large. The prey behind me went over it with ease. But I heard one of them yell and fall. The building I set on fire the day before was up ahead. Once I get there, I’ll have a chokepoint. The prey in front of me were scattered, not stopping me. Almost there. They were stabbing my bag. But it didn’t matter. The door was wide open. I was on the steps. Then, the door slammed shut. I crashed into it. Bounced off. Fell over. The prey with the spears were almost on top of me. I was so close. What happened?

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Virlyce

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