I trundled down the hall, Beatrice following along behind. Several minutes had passed since we had left the beautiful room, but she was still muttering under her breath. Honestly, I was starting to get a little worried. In the few days we had been hanging out together, she was very quiet and didn't speak much. Something must really be bothering her to make her change that habit.
It continued for long enough that I decided I needed to do something. We were only about halfway to our destination, but I stopped in front of Beatrice and gave her an inquisitive beep. She fell silent, coming to a halt right in front of me, and looked down. She seemed to consider her words before speaking.
"Master, I'm just trying to figure it out. I don't understand why. What was the point of releasing one of the 13? The destruction it would cause would be unimaginable if it got out. I understand you may have freed the others for training. Or for food and resources. But couldn't you have just left Nazareth'gak alone?"
I'll be honest; I didn't really understand what she was talking about. What did she think I released? What was this about destruction? Destruction was usually something to be avoided, as it caused a mess. However, sometimes you must destroy things to make them more presentable. I thought about that show my humans loved, where a house was broken down and taken apart to be rebuilt as a newer, shinier version. However, that was planned destruction, and the messes were controlled. Beatrice probably wasn't talking about one of those times based on the tone of her voice. Most of the time, destruction only caused chaos and more work for me.
After a moment of silence, her last question hanging in the air, I gave Beatrice another questioning beep. I tried to encourage her to go on and explain.
"Well, I mean, there is no way I'm going to become powerful enough to fight it by the time it is released. So I don't think it is a training aid for me. I don't know. Maybe you’re trying to find a challenge for yourself? I'm not sure how powerful it is compared to you. I suppose if you are also training and you want to fight it… Maybe that would be it. That does seem like it would cause a huge mess, though. Also, I'd rather not have the castle come down on my head."
That clicked with me. I didn't want to cause a big mess. Was something I did going to cause a mess? I still was unclear about the whole “releasing” thing. But if I was doing something that would result in an abnormal amount of cleaning required, I would absolutely stop it if I could. Unless that would be interfering with a human. Then again, I was here for training, so maybe I could become capable enough to clean up even the most intimidating messes. After all, messes were a part of life, and chaos was unavoidable... I resolved to train harder.
I think I had an idea now of what she was upset about well enough that we could probably continue. I resumed my precisely 3.18 mile per hour pace towards the large room with the big mess. Beatrice followed along more calmly this time. Her muttering had stopped, and she seemed to relax a little.
As we walked, she eventually began to speak again. But not in the mutter-under-your-breath stress kind of way from before. Actually, I doubted she realized she muttered under her breath previously.
"So, I'm not exactly clear what your plan is. But it seems like you have it under control. If you need help in any way, let me know. I am eager to learn from you. If you really can consider beating a legend like that... I can only hope to gain a fraction of your power."
Of my power? That made even less sense. Humans didn’t have the same power source as my kind did. Or did they? I still didn’t quite know what caused humans to function. Maybe she meant my suction power? I imagined Beatrice lying down on the floor, inhaling dust as I did. It was a funny thought. That was not how humans cleaned! Besides, she didn’t have any bristles, so she’d only be able to get surface particles if she did try to imitate my vacuuming technique.
Hopefully, she meant something more like general cleaning ability. In that case, I think she might be just as good at raw “power.” She could move much heavier things, with more freedom, and move much quicker than me. The only advantage my kind had was we liked cleaning more than humans. Also, we didn't get tired the same way. For a human to suggest that I might be more powerful than them was baffling. We were always more of a convenience than anything else. Maybe humans here were really that bad at cleaning?
I brought myself out of my musings when we arrived at the large room. Beatrice paused after she opened the door. Then turned to give me an unreadable look.
She seemed to sigh. “You know, I'm not as surprised as I should be. It says a lot about the last few days. Master, if you wait a second. I'll go grab a bucket and a mop.”
As she turned around to leave, I beeped appreciatively and popped out my mop in solidarity. Human mops were much larger than mine. I bet that would help a lot!
Bee trudged back to the broom closet. She never thought she would come back here, especially under such peaceful circumstances. She could still see the calcium deposit from the spilled mop bucket. The one she knocked over when she first clambered in over a week ago. Opening the door, Bee saw all her good friends were still there. Aside from the broom, of course. Choosing the one that had inconvenienced her least during her stay, she grabbed out a mop and the empty bucket.
With tools in hand, she returned to the grand hall. For all that Void seemed obsessed with cleanliness, holy hell, had he made a mess. She was surprised that he hadn’t already cleaned it up. She'd seen Void consume demons before, usually in an instant. However, as time went on, stronger demons were getting released. That might explain why there was so much more carnage this time. While it seemed like Void still hadn’t had any issues with someone like her, they would be harder to deal with. Still, Void didn’t seem to have anything resembling a bladed weapon; how had it managed to cut them apart? Had they just been torn apart by force? She was sure she saw demon body parts in the room, a couple of severed hands at least lying around in all the blood.
Reaching down, she touched the handle stuck in her belt. The cleaver's weight was a comfort. Even if she couldn’t do whatever that was, she had her own ways to cut these demons down to size. She was stronger now. Sure, not strong enough to even think of taking on the dozens that must have perished in there. Maybe just one to start off. She tried not to picture the scene of Void pulverizing demons in a gory tornado.
She returned to the grand hall to see Void already at work. It was hoovering up all the large chunks of body parts and a fair amount of liquid. Passing through the gunk pretty quickly, Void was making rapid progress. However, it couldn't quite get the majority of the liquid. Perhaps it would do that after, or it was waiting for her to take care of it. She propped the mop by the door and hefted the bucket. She’d need to get some water.
Well, the kitchen was just down the hall and to the right. It was not too far away. She could ask for help and get Void to go with her. But it was close enough, and she did hope to find a single minor demon along the way. With the cleaver and surprise on her side, she might be able to take it. Then she would hit level 5, which would be great for her survival prospects. It would also give her another way to earn experience rather than fighting more demons. It was a risk to go and fight something, sure, but if she played her cards right, she wouldn’t have to do this much more.
Bee sighed. This sounds like the thinking that got me chased down the hall last time. Bee thought. Well, not exactly the same. She wasn't afraid of asking Void for help anymore. Now it was more of a pride thing. She didn't want to embarrass herself or disappoint Void. Could she really justify putting herself in danger just for that? This was an incredibly stupid thing to do. She had just finished healing and only was able to walk again yesterday. Sure she was in much better shape now, and she even had two hands free. But she also had no combat knowledge, and yet she would try to scan and kill a demon. While she was a human child, still without a class.
The demons around here couldn’t be that strong yet. Based on what she’d seen and experienced firsthand, they were likely under level 10. Shouldn't be impossible, just dangerous. Plus, if she didn’t do this now, then who knows? Maybe this was her best chance to learn how to protect herself while the stakes were relatively low and the more powerful demons were still in stasis. But this was just a stupid idea. Bee kept repeating versions of this mantra to herself, but she was already halfway to the kitchen.
She actually got all the way there without any issues. After filling the bucket with the water pump, she started back... As she walked, trying to keep her steps as quiet as possible with a bucket full of water in her grip, she kept her head on the swivel. She actually saw the demon before it saw her. It was an undersized one, the smallest she had seen so far, only a little larger than the ash imp. Bee supposed she might have gotten lucky and found a weakling. Or one that had just gotten out of stasis and hadn't had a chance to fully recharge. This was her chance.
She set the bucket down as gently as she could, cringing inwardly at the soft thunk sound it made. When the demon made no indication that it had heard her, she crept closer. The cleaver silently slipped from her belt into her hand.
When she got within range, she immediately scanned the demon.
It hadn't offered any more information. But it was a lesser demon, so it shouldn't be a much higher level than her. Besides, it was still moving around without noticing her presence. It looked like it had cornered something. It juked back and forth in the opening of a room. Bee couldn't see past it well enough to see what it was doing. So she kept getting as close as possible while the demon was distracted.
She actually managed to get close enough that she could almost touch the demon before it noticed something was wrong. It froze for a split second before turning to look at her. But it was too late. The cleaver was already descending towards its head.
The cleaver impacted. The demon managed to get its forearm up in time. It took the hit near its elbow instead of being smashed in the face. In that moment of hesitation, an orange blur shot between its legs. Skidding into a sharp left turn, a cat fled down the hallway. Bee stumbled forward, having put all of her weight into the swing, completely overbalancing. It might not have been the best idea, but the heavy blade embedded into what felt like bone with a sharp crack.
A spray of black goopy liquid gushed from the wound, splattering all over her face and clothes. And only because she had overbalanced and was falling forward did the demon's other arm full of claws swipe towards her miss. Claws took a few strands of hair off as she fell to the ground. The momentum of the fall took the cleaver out of the arm of the demon. She was lucky to keep hold of it. She landed, sprawled out at the feet of the beast. Clutching its arm, it howled in pain. Thinking quickly, Bee repositioned the cleaver and slashed at the back of its ankle before it could recover.
Aiming for the tendon, she could see attaching its claws to its leg. She didn't swing with as much force this time as she did not have the same leverage but still had no problem puncturing the skin and tearing through the tendon, but did not come close to impacting the bone. This was good because it allowed her to maintain control of the cleaver. She wrenched her weapon free with little effort and scrambled back as the demon collapsed.
Safely out of range, Bee regained her feet. In the half second since she attacked, black blood sprayed everywhere from the two wounds she inflicted. Now she was thoroughly covered with the black, tar-smelling liquid.
The demon howled at her as it lay on the ground, not even attempting to struggle away. With its leg immobilized and one arm useless, it didn't pose much of a threat. The only thing it could do was call for help from its brethren. She came closer. With a few downward hacks, Bee finished it off.
Panting, Bee pulled in long lungfuls of air. The whole thing took less than 5 seconds. But she felt like she had run a marathon. Adrenaline pumped through her, and everything seemed to move slower. Her movements felt faster, sharper, and more precise. She caught her breath as a large number floated up in the corner of her vision.
LEVEL UP! LEVEL 5 REACHED.
CHOOSE A CLASS. MAID, DEVOTEE, BRUTE