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I bumped into the chair leg again. My archnemesis. I didn’t let it ruffle my composure. I paused for a second, backed up, rotated precisely 15 degrees, and tried again. I repeat until I have navigated around the obstacle. Despite the inconvenience, I wasn’t too disturbed; my humans sometimes would challenge me by changing up the scenery and providing new impediments to my progress. It gave me something to look forward to. Plus, I didn’t have any problems keeping up with the work, despite their best efforts, so it was all in good fun. Sedately, I continued under the table. I hummed across the floor, making steady progress. As a professional, I held myself to the highest of standards when it came to the cleanliness of my home. A sparkling clean floor was truly essential to the running of a functional household.

I happily trundled around the dining room, cleaning up after dinner. I noted a 15% increase in crumbs from this meal, but it didn’t interfere with my duties. After a job well done, I returned to my warm bed to sleep.

***

I woke with a start. Instead of the usually loving touch on my head to let me know my services were needed, I woke with a flash and a bang. My sensors went blank, but I was awake.

Replacing the laser distance measures I used to map my surroundings, an image of the surroundings was transmitted directly to my sensors. Normally, I need to process the data first. What an odd thing. I beeped in distress. There was nothing to see. Suddenly a wall appeared in front of me, blocking my path. I tried to slam on the brakes and turn to avoid collision as I always do, but nothing happened. I braced for impact. Huh, my wall sensor hadn't been activated. Taking a closer look, I realized the wall was not moving. It had strange patterns on it. I stared at it. It didn’t move. I didn’t move. I couldn’t move.

Just when I was about to power down again and hoped that my human would wake me up soon, a voice spoke. ILLITERACY DETECTED. SWITCHING TO AUDITORY MODE. That was very loud, I thought. I wonder what it means. What is “illiteracy”? The voice continued.

INITIATING TRANSFER TO NEW WORLD. SCAN COMPLETE. CREATURE SUMMONED: AUTONOMOUS VACUUM. CONSCIOUSNESS: ADDED. SELF-AWARENESS: ADDED. VISION: ADDED. MOVEMENT: WHEELED. ENERGY SUPPLY: ELECTRICAL. INCOMPATIBLE ENERGY SUPPLY TYPE DETECTED. FINDING CONVERTIBLE ENERGY SUPPLY TYPE. CONVERTING ENERGY SUPPLY TO COMPATIBLE TYPE. ENERGY SUPPLY: CONSUMED MATTER.

What was this thing going on about? It probably wasn’t important. I started to power down again. Hopefully, my humans would wake me when I was needed.

STATUS:

SPEED:0.5

STRENGTH:0.5

MAGIC:0

MAGIC RESIS….

The loud voice continued to speak, but I was already shutting down. There was nothing for me to do here.

***

I woke up with a start. My wheels gave a half turn in surprise before I took in my surroundings. The flash of light that roused me receded, revealing my surroundings.

I rested on a floor of smooth, black marble, far removed from the light hardwood I was used to. The stone was set into a decorative grid like pattern. The joins between each tile were tight and grouted properly. I can appreciate a good grout. This would be easy to clean. Decorative stone pillars at the edge of my sight soared upwards. These pillars surrounded me on all sides. It appeared I was in the center of a large vaulted room. Not that far away, there were 10 humans. They were not my humans, so I ignored them and continued scanning.

My humans often rearranged my domain, introducing new obstacles to keep my duties from becoming too dull. I didn’t think this was the case though. This was too much, even for them. Clearly, this was not the home I was accustomed to caring for.

It didn’t take more than a few seconds for my scan to complete. I was shocked by the results. What a mess!

The floor around me was covered in piles and lines of chalk, salt, and other powder-like substances. Honestly, it was as bad as when the human child had arts and crafts day.

An idea started to form. My humans, in their infinite respect for cleanliness, took pity on these poor people and lent my services to them. As they were clearly incapable of caring for themselves, I would continue my purpose and help.

Full of purpose and brimming with pride at my assignment, I beeped in excitement and began to move toward the nearest part of the mess. With vigor, I began to clean.

In front of me was a line of salt. I advanced, the section of line in the way was cleared. A little symbol floated in the corner of my field of view. It quickly faded without causing any more of a mess, so I ignored it and kept going.

----

Harold and his summoners stared at the ritual circle. As the smoke cleared, they got their first glimpse of the being they had summoned. It resembled a circular disk of deep black material, a little over a foot in diameter and barely thicker than his index finger was long. It sat motionless, appearing to hover off the ground slightly.

“Did… Did it work?” One of the apprentices nervously clutched his Demon's bane powder, ready to hurl it at a moment’s notice. With one trembling finger, an archivist pushed up his glasses and took a small step forward, peering inside the circle.

“I… Forgive me, Master Harold, but I-I don’t recognize this variety of Demon. I’ve never seen anything l-like it.”

Harold frowned. The being didn’t look like any of the entries he had seen in the archives either. That was for sure. Aside from a short series of runic characters along its face and a slightly thicker section along one edge of the disk, it did not appear to have any other identifying markings.

As Harold took a while to consider his response, the assembled mages started to shuffle nervously.

“It appears we did not get the Demon we were trying to summon.” With Harold’s pronouncements, the nervous mutters rose from the assembled group. Harold kept his composure. He sighed. It couldn’t be helped. They had known that summoning an archdemon was a long shot with their levels, and they had hoped to at least Summon a fiend or a Greater Demon. Still, an inert failure was better than summoning something they could not control, thus dooming them all to a slow and painful death at the hands of a cataclysmic force. At least they could try again once the room was reset.

Seeing a moment to teach, he wanted to make use of the failure. If they didn’t succeed tomorrow, they would be in some hot water. Harold looked pointed at the apprentices. “What are the possible consequence of a failed Summon?”

“T-the first possibility is that our summoning failed, and this is simply a leftover artifact of the spell’s energy. That would account for its appearance and the fact that it doesn’t seem to be alive.” The apprentice answered nervously.

“And the second?”

Slightly more confidently, the apprentice continued. “The other, and much less likely possibility, is that we’ve summoned an unclassified Demon.”

Harold pointed at a different apprentice. “Which do you think we have here?”

"Well, because no new Demon varieties have been observed in centuries, even with enthusiasts whose ritual circle designs center around summoning novelty. It is… unlikely.”

“Alright. We’ll continue to observe, but it’s looking like this try was a dud.” Harold waved towards the group. “Do as you will”.

The summoners began whispering to each other in hushed tones. They had gathered into little groups to discuss what could have gone wrong. With every passing second, the tension filling the room seemed to dissipate slightly.

The summoners traded their powder sachets for books, recording notes about the summoning for later review. The archivists began pointing out specific sections of the circle to the summoners, following Harold’s lead in trying to turn the failure into a lesson for tomorrow's attempt.

The apprentice nodded and began quickly walking towards the door. Before he had gotten two steps, a sudden sound made his head whip back to the circle. The one apprentice who had not taken his eyes off the thing yelled in alarm.

The entire group froze in place, fear spiking. Everyone's heads whipped around to see what was going on. The thing they had summoned emitted some sort of high-pitched shriek, a keening, sorrowful note. Then it began to slowly, purposefully move forward.

Panic didn’t take hold immediately. They were no military, but they had drilled for things like this. Everyone scrambled into a defensive formation, Demonsbane at the ready and poised to fight if need be. It approached the barrier, ostensibly to test the boundary’s strength and see how difficult it would be to break.

The summoners instinctively took a few steps back and tensed. Sweat beaded on Harold’s brow. They had summoned a unique Demon. For it to be unknown meant it had to come from the deep. Then it was powerful. They had no idea what they were working with. However, they had prepared for an archdemon and then some. Whatever it was, it wouldn’t be able to escape the ritual circle easily.

The Demon passed right through without even slowing. The circle broke in its wake, a gap as wide as the Demon ripped open as it pushed through it with less effort than tearing a sheet of paper.

That was when panic set in. Someone screamed. Horrified, the summoners began hurling Demonsbane at the Demon. The attempt to slow it down failed. The Demon didn’t even notice. Demonsbane that landed before it was erased from existence as its inexorable advance continued.

Harold cried the order to retreat, hurling every kind of Demon-repellent at his disposal. It was unnecessary, as the others had already begun to flee. An archivist tripped over his robes and screeched, scrambling backward away from the relentless horror. Prongs extended from its maw, they were bushes like the teeth of a great whale, then they began to spin. All the countermeasures did nothing. The Demon broke through each defense, not even slowing. It ignored all their attacks. They might have just been throwing dirt at it for all the expensive and powerful materials they used to try and stop it.

Harold hauled the fallen man to his feet and pushed him out the door, bringing up the rear of the fleeing group. Behind them, it continued its relentless push forward, towards its would-be captors, towards revenge for being called.

No one stopped running when they were outside the castle. The entire staff had heard the commotion. Screams echoed down the corridors as they ran.

Their lives were at stake here. Demons weren’t known for being the merciful type, and something that stalked its prey in such a manner was likely to rank among the most pitiless. Forget binding the thing to them - all they could do was run and hope they weren’t caught.

They ran as fast and far as they could. They ran away from the blight they had brought upon this world. They continued down the road leading to the nearest village. The King needed to be warned.

---

Everyone left so I could do my work. That was kind; having to ask people to step out of my way by bumping into their ankles always felt rude. I would much rather work in peace.

Now that I had a chance to look around, I had a better understanding of the magnitude of the task before me. I had thought that the chalk and dust were bad, but these humans seemed to even make it a habit of throwing powder around willy-nilly. The room was so much worse now than when I had arrived. One of the humans must have spilled something as they were leaving, as there was a trail of yellow puddles following his footsteps out the door.

I didn’t expect them to stay and help clean up of course. I was proud to do it as independently as ever. However, I didn’t expect them to make things so messy on the way out. Perhaps this was their idea of a welcoming party. I would have appreciated help with the liquid, as I wasn’t equipped for that very well. But cleaning up was my job, and I would figure out a way to get it done.

No matter. They had left me to do my business. With a cheer nonetheless. I have to admit it was nice to be appreciated, even if I didn’t need it. But they really went over the top with shouts of encouragement, so I would take it. Luckily now I had peace and quiet to do my favorite thing in the world.

I systematically drove myself forward, turning the customary 15 degrees whenever I bumped into a wall. Thankfully, the room was mostly devoid of furniture, so it was a very smooth process.

About halfway through the room, I was interrupted.

LEVEL UP. LEVEL1 ACHIEVED. UNLOCKED SUMMONING BONUS. MUTATION REWARD BOOSTED. THE FIRST MUTATION REACHED. CHOOSE BETWEEN: DIMENSIONAL TRAVEL, FLIGHT, OR LIMITLESS DUSTPAN.

What was that all about? Did a voice really need to yell at me when I was in the zone?

CHOOSE.

Fine. Looking around, I saw how much I still had to go. There were straight lines of clean floor from where I had traveled, but it was barely making a dent in the work still left to do. There was so much stuff, and I wasn’t going to be able to take it all in one trip. Without either my receptacle or someone to clean my dustpan, I wasn’t able to finish it. The choice was obvious.

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A note from zaifyr

Hey, thanks for giving my chapter a read! This is the first writathon, and I'm looking forward to working on something new.

And if you are here from my other story, Ascension (Shameless plug). I appreciate you!


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