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A note from zaifyr

I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Blue Lighting author of The Achievement [system] and DCCR.

I found him while doing a review swap for the achievement system. But I've kept reading along and it's something that deserves a lot more attention than it's currently getting.  Let's go sweep him away!

With a fair amount of struggling, Bee freed herself from the blanket’s grasping clutches. Carefully she stood up. Looking down at her injured leg, she saw the wraps loosely pooled around her foot. The swelling had gone down since this morning, even more than the previous day. What surprised her most wasn't the healing but the lack of pain. She moved her ankle and felt almost full mobility. It felt slightly stiff as if she had rolled it the day before. But that was all. She shifted her weight from foot to foot and found that she could walk normally, if not run quite yet. Free to move around, her panic receded. It was a huge relief to move around freely after being hobbled for so long.

Looking around her for Void, she saw nothing. It wasn't anywhere she could see. She even crouched down to put her head near the floor at its level so she could scan under the furniture, and still, it was nowhere to be seen. She attempted to remember what exactly happened before she fell asleep. There were some memories of profound wisdom that she was unable to withstand. Or maybe that had been a dream? It’s possible that her brain was unable to hold the revelation she had received and shut down. A combination of its overwhelming information and her exhaustion could have kicked Bee right into unconsciousness. This was quite surreal.

As she continued searching for Void and wondering where the blanket had come from, Bee heard a new sound from the hallways outside. She hadn't recognized it at first. Probably because she had never heard it before. A truly inhuman screeching noise intermittently pierced through the thick library door. That scream didn't sound angry; it was terrified. Something was being chased. It probably was what had woken her up.

She heard another scream from somewhere else in the castle. This wasn’t Void. Void’s screech was much more cold and calculating. Well, that might not be true, actually. She may have misjudged the… She wasn't really sure what Void was. She was relatively confident it wasn't a demon at this point. So there were really only two options for the sources of the screams. One, the demons had started infighting (which was not only possible but likely). However, that didn't seem to fit with her gut instinct. That left option two: Void might be out hunting.

The idea of such a powerful being actively pursuing her, or any living creature, sent chills down her spine and raised goosebumps on her forearms.

Bee tried to decide what to do. She didn't think she could help exactly. Why would Void even accept her help? However, she couldn't just stay still. Something compelled her to assist Void in any way she could. Perhaps it was due to the fact she had forfeited her soul. Or perhaps, the fear motivating her for the previous day or so had been replaced with something else.

Abruptly the screaming ceased. Bee cocked her head to the side, listening for the refrain to start up again. After 10-15 seconds, there was nothing. When she didn’t hear any demons celebrating, she knew Void must have been victorious.

Not that Bee had ever doubted it; she had felt the force of Void’s presence before. And there was no way a lesser or minor demon could harm Void. In fact, if they weren't disturbing its castle, Bee doubted Void would have noticed them. Whatever Void did to consume them seemed almost instinctual. It did not feel forceful enough to be a directed attack. According to legends, god-like beings’ attacks could be felt across reality. She never felt anything from Void remotely resembling that. No. In fact, the way Void cleaned was the same as how it fought. So it seemed that the approach was just a byproduct of its very nature rather than an intentional attack. Even the thought of Void exerting its true power made her stomach turn. To face such power was unthinkable.

Able to move around, Bee quickly gathered up her things and set up to prepare one last mixture of this healing salve. Surprisingly it worked much more effectively than she expected based on the book’s description. Maybe the healing should have taken another day or so. However, she did apply it more frequently than was recommended. She hoped there weren't any real consequences for that. That was a pretty minor thing to care about at this point. As she was setting things up, she checked her status. Had she not woken up in such a panic, it would have caught her immediate attention.

Overnight she had leveled up! She had also leveled up the previous day. The assists she had gotten on the ash imps and the minor demons that Void consumed were giving her quite a bit of experience. Something didn't balance out, though.

When she had got the experience for the assist with the ash imp, she hadn’t gotten the experience until sometime during the night. That time she had got a standard assist experience share. This time she had gotten a lesser assist for running away. Apparently, that counted as enough distraction to be called a participant. Bee thought the system was generous. Still, that share was incomplete. That shouldn’t be possible. Nothing could explain it. Bee caught herself. Of course, something could explain it. She was dealing with a being capable of hiding its stats from the system. Maybe it was getting a larger share. Or the experience was being lowered because of the power difference. Reminding herself to learn more about the system, Bee wished she knew more than the common knowledge everyone’s parents told them.

As she leveled up, she would get tougher, stronger, and faster, and everything would get better. So that was a relief. What was not a relief was at level five, humans had to choose their class. Options were based on the actions you had taken and the deeds you had done. Typically most people were never forced to consider getting a class until they were in their early twenties. Other than wealthy Nobles or important military personage, no one could afford to go around trying to kill things. The only ones who tried were either desperate or thrill seekers. They either ended up dead or working as an adventurer. Then dead.

Bee’s conundrum was that she hadn't done anything with her life yet. There was nothing she could claim as an accomplishment; the only thing she'd been was a janitor at a castle of mages. Technically her title was mage's apprentice. That might have meant she would get an option with magic. But she doubted the system would see it that way.

She pushed that problem to the back of her mind as something she couldn't do anything about. Bee continued mixing her ingredients to make the simple salve. The motions were starting to become routine, such that it only took her half of the time to finish.

Once she was done with that, Bee began to look through the shelves. She needed an edge. Something to make herself more useful…

***

Bee jumped with a start as she heard the door open. She was halfway through cleaning her alchemy equipment. Looking up, she saw the door swing open, and she readied the beaker in her hand to throw at the intruder. Holding her breath she waited.

It appeared as if Void was having an awkward time getting through the door as it was bringing something with him. Bee let out the breath she had started holding. It was just Void. Just Void. Oh, it's just the end of the world. She chastised herself for lowering her guard so readily around such a being. Once Void made it through the door, the light from the library revealed what he was carrying. Bee choked on the exhale. On Void’s back, a pillow balanced. After Void carefully closed the door with its extendable arm, it picked something up off the floor. Bee breathed in, recovering her breath. Void was carrying the cleaver she had dropped when they first met.

As the little disc came into view, Bee had to clap a hand over her mouth. Void looked a little comical, if such a thing was possible for being of its power. She didn't want to offend it by laughing at its appearance. The thought soon fled as it brought the knife closer.

It looked decidedly out of character. Its actions have never been overtly aggressive, and only because of Void’s power did it seem threatening. Also, the image of it holding a cleaver looked wrong. The knife was longer than Void was wide. She couldn't even figure out how Void carried it without being tipped over. As it approached, holding the cleaver, she resisted the urge to back away. When Void reached her, it set down the knife on the floor next to the table. Then it turned its arm towards its own back. It carefully removed the pillow and placed it on top of her blanket. It then picked up the cleaver again. Cleaver in its claw, it rolled closer to her.

Void offered what she considered its standard beep as a greeting. This was a simple noise, still alien and scary as hell, but manageably so.

----

It was hard to admit, even to myself, but I got sidetracked. After bringing the human the blanket, I had planned to retrieve her a pillow. I didn't want her to receive any further damage from joints bending further than they were supposed to. However, I may have gotten a little carried away.

It all started when I was going to grab the nearest pillow I was aware of. On the way there, I found the metal object the human had been holding when I first saw her get attacked by a mess maker. Sorry - minor demon. Or was it a lesser demon? The small human seemed to use those terms interchangeably.

Upon inspection, I could not figure out the purpose of the metal object. It was heavy, and even with my newfound strength, I had a little trouble lifting it. It appeared to only have one side sharpened and a wooden handle. Grasping it by the handle, I tried turning around. The weight was such that I started to overbalance. When carrying this, I needed to be careful. The sharp object certainly didn't belong there, and I should figure out where it does belong. I didn’t remember ever seeing one of these in my human household, so I was going to return it to the small human. It was hers, after all. She will surely be happy to have it back. Then maybe I could figure out where it belongs. I placed the object on my lid for easy transport.

As I was doing this, I saw one of the lesser demons run across the hallway down the connecting junction. This was less than ideal. The human had made it clear that she was not a fan of these. I would usually leave it to her, but she was currently indisposed. However, the real thing that got my attention was that this demon was carrying a bag of fine white powder. As it ran by, powder spilled all over the freshly cleaned hallway. This spelled trouble. Even with my newfound efficiencies, any further mess it created would put me behind schedule in cleaning the rest of this floor. Moving at my top speed, I began to shoot after it. Before I made it more than a few feet, I felt the object on my chassis start to slide. I had to quickly grab it with my grabby arm before it flew off and clattered to the floor.

Sharp metal object in hand, I zoomed after the mess-spreading demon. I had already captured two of its kind before. After capture, they resided in my dustpan. Occasionally, I could feel their flaky skin chafing against my inner storage bin, a sharp contrast to the fuzzy minor mess maker I had caught earlier. The discomfort spurred me onwards. I needed to stop the mess at the source.

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A note from zaifyr

Hey you want to read chapter 17 (Chasing Perfection) right now? Can you guess where it is? That's right Patreon. If you want to wait.... Then I guess I'll see you here. Same time tomorrow!


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zaifyr

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