I had cleaned the rug dozens of times by the time my mind finally settled. The world had just become a much more complicated place. But I would have to deal with it. I had responsibilities to meet and duties to perform. So I went to see if Beatrice was done charging.
I actually met her on my way to the library. She was just coming out of one of the doors leading to a room with cages. I hoped she hadn't been pushing herself by cleaning too much yet. She needed maintenance before returning to her more arduous duties.
She jumped a little when she saw me but politely bowed and wished me good morning. Still, I needed to improve on reading human facial features. Her eyes looked strange. Not the eyes themselves but the area around them. There appeared to be dark circles under them; I didn't remember seeing those there before. I wonder if that came from the damage the other humans inflicted. If so, maybe she could also fix them during maintenance and charging. I hoped she had had a good night charging.
I also saw that her damaged arm looked like it had been packaged somehow. It had been wrapped in cloth and tied to her chest. Presumably, this was to keep it from flapping about while she couldn't control it. That was a bright idea. I will have to keep that in mind for future damages. It would be an excellent way to prevent any further damage while charging. Especially since humans seemed to move when they charged much more than I did.
I hoped that her repairs would take less time than the previous ones. A good mechanic should take less than days to fix something as simple as swapping an outer part. I suppose if you were doing it yourself, it must be much more challenging, though. And the truth was, I envied the humans' ability to repair themselves. If I had to replace my arm, I would be utterly incapable of doing so.
So far, I was lucky enough to avoid damage. However, my wheels were starting to get almost grimy. When I cleaned the carpets, I spent half the time cleaning up the dust I tracked in myself from driving around. It took several passes, but most of the stuff eventually left my underside from being brushed off or flaking off. Sure, I could vacuum it up as I trundled along, but I'm sure my top and sides were just as gross.
Maybe I would get some sort of self-cleaning or repair power soon. But the loud voice hadn't made an appearance in a while. I had even transmuted some material to fill myself up earlier, and still nothing. I imagined if I transmuted everything, I would hear it again, maybe? Perhaps I would try that once I needed more energy again.
I considered how to convey my decision about training to Beatrice. I wasn't about to figure out how to, honestly. So she would just have to figure it out as we went along. Unfortunately, she was still damaged. I didn't think she could protect herself adequately without her arm in working condition, so training that way would be suboptimal. But I suppose we could do something to pass the time until she was fully repaired. With a series of beeps, I encouraged her to follow me and led her to the main staircase again.
This time did not require nearly as much convincing before she picked me up and carried me down. She seemed less reluctant this time, though still very careful, even with one arm. The process seemed more complicated than it probably should have been. After all, I was pretty light. She should have been easily able to carry me even with a broken arm. In fact, my humans at home carried me in one hand all the time. However, Beatrice was much more careful to keep me level instead of letting me swing around facing the floor. I did appreciate that.
She set me down carefully at the bottom, and I thanked her. Then I went off to finish fully exploring this area. The side chambers really needed cleaning. The rest of the castle had been cleaned regularly, but these had definitely been neglected. Just because they weren't as fancy and pretty didn't mean they deserved to be ignored. I understood that maybe cleaning them on a less frequent schedule, but the room with the hooks and coats on the walls probably hadn't been swept in months. This was unacceptable.
Beatrice excused herself and quickly returned a few minutes later with a broom. Together, we set out to care for the rooms, exploring as we went. I started us with the two rooms immediately adjacent to the base of the stairs. As we worked, we developed a new sort of rhythm. Instead of sweeping side by side, which wasn't as effective in these smaller rooms, we worked in complementary roles.
Seeing that the broom was better at moving dust and debris, Bee would clean things I couldn't reach. Even one-handed, she could sweep the dust onto the floor where I had yet to go. While Bee cleaned off the trim and any furniture, I did what I did best. I drove in straight lines and elegant curves, covering every bit of the floor with my suction. Carefully, I cleaned all the open areas away from walls and furniture first. Then I picked up the debris she had swept off the walls, window sills, tables, benches, and other furniture. It was a wonderfully efficient way to cover the whole floor without redundancies.
We also found a heavily padlocked door behind the stairs during our explorations. A visitor would have to go in the main entrance and, instead of going up the stairs, go down this hidden passage. At the end of the passage was this dark oak door banded with iron. I could sense that there was something more to it. I wasn't sure how I knew, but I did. It looked like an antique. I never had gotten into doors, but still, this was a rarity. I wondered if the floors behind it were a similar style. While it seemed inaccessible at the moment, it did make me curious. It also made me consider how to go about exploring the rest of the castle.
Now that Beatrice could help me traverse the other floors of the castle, I debated whether I should do a depth-first or a breadth-first search. If I did a depth-first search, I would keep going down every room or passage until I hit a dead end. Then I would backtrack and do the same thing in the following passage. However, if I did breadth-first, I would go through every passage one level down or explore the room behind each door on a given floor. Then I would continue doing that until I ran out of options, then repeat from one level down if there were secondary rooms or passages. One would give me much more profound knowledge about specific areas, and the other would give me a lot more variety. As indicated in the names. Of course, I would explore the whole castle, either way, given enough time.
I would be doing a depth-first search if I prioritized seeing what was behind this admittedly well-crafted door. But if I went back and explored another stairwell, I would be doing a breadth-first search. I had done breadth-first, for the most part, when examining the main floor. It helped me get my bearings and gave me a good understanding of what the castle had to offer. However, now I wanted to master how to clean each section rather than just explore more. After all, with efficient paths for each room, cleaning them on a regular schedule would be easier.
However, after our initial exploration, the only two options for a depth search on this floor were problematic: the outside and the banded iron door.
I had already gone through the outside door, so that would be the logical place to continue. However, I wasn't sure if outside would be part of my search. I feel that would take way too long - the dirt seemed endless. So I chose to truncate that branch of the search for now. Still, I decided to commit to the depth first. I would explore one section of the castle at a time totally. I understood the main floor, which seemed to encompass most of the castle's footprint. I could explore upstairs, and various towers, and maybe Beatrice would help me find a way through the doors I couldn't open myself. However, I'd like to start with the banded wood door. I sensed a higher concentration of mustiness and dust coming from underneath, so I worried that the room beyond had been even more neglected than most.
Bee stood before the door with Void. It was a heavy banded door made of dark wood that looked very sinister. The dark wood looked aged, and the iron bands were a half-inch thick and as wide as her hand. A slight bit of rust had built up over the years. The lock looked rusted shut. In fact, it seemed that it would fall apart any day now. To top it off, a set of claw marks ran down the center of the door. The five lines went diagonally down the door underneath the bands. Bee wondered if the incident that caused those markings was why the bands were added. She hadn't seen it when she first came to the castle. In fact, she hadn't been allowed near this door except when they warned her to avoid it. They hadn't given her much of a chance to look at it before dragging her away. But she immediately knew what it was. This was the catacombs entrance.
Bee had no idea what was inside. A lot of dead things, presumably. However, it did seem to be the kind of place that would contain a lot of monsters. The nearness of all the death had weakened the walls between the realms. Hence the heavy door to keep the monsters inside. She didn't understand why Void wanted to go inside now. While she had a broken arm, no healing salve left over, no other materials to create more powders, nor any chance to make the other things she had researched. This was not a good start to the morning.
Blinking in shock, Bee had an idea. "I wonder if that's why they summon demons here. I bet that Nazareth'gak’s presence weakens the barrier to the demonic realm…."
"Master, can this wait please?" she begged. "Before we go explore that area, I would like to be fully healed and a little more prepared."
She was still exhausted. Bee had spent almost the entire night researching and checking up on various demons to exercise her scan ability. She had gotten maybe three hours of sleep that night. Void made an inquisitive sound, seeming to ask why they should delay.
"We can go in a day or two if we really must. Let me sleep and prepare some materials to bring. That way, I can heal and possibly be more useful to you."
It beeped in what she took for assent. Sagging in relief as they returned to the stairwell, she carried Void back upstairs, then headed to the library.
Bee was both excited and nervous. If Void let her survive exploring/cleaning the catacombs, she would almost certainly reach level 10. With their recent work, she could see that she was very close already. This was just what she needed. Of course, her master would push her, but hopefully, it would keep her from dying if she got in over her head.
Rushing around to prepare, Bee made a double batch of healing salve and applied it all at once. It seemed to have worked before, and she needed to be ready soon. Bee wished to take some with her, but its potency didn't last long. She would have to bring her alchemy supplies and make them fresh in the field.
After Bee had slathered the salve all over her arm, she rewrapped it carefully. Then she started gathering the materials she would need. A complete set of equipment and her notebook of useful recipes. A backpack, since her bag was only large enough for short expeditions. She wasn't sure how long they would be in the catacombs, but it was better to be safe if they got lost. She would also need to run and grab food and water from the kitchen. As well as more supplies for her alchemy from the storeroom.
On her way to the lesser storeroom, Bee was glad that most of the minor demons had been taken care of. She hadn't seen one in days. From what Bee could tell from inspecting the cages, the regular demons were still mostly subdued or recovering from stasis. At least, she hadn't seen any out yet. Hopefully, they wouldn't wake up for another day or two. Plus, If they worked like the lesser demons, they wouldn't all come out at once.
Running through her mental checklist again, Bee began packing alchemy materials into small leather sacks. This would be an excellent opportunity for her to get stronger. She just had to make sure she was prepared. Time to see if all that research would pay off.
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Bio: After reading pretty much everything I could I figured I would try making some of the stories that I wanted to read.