A note from zaifyr

I making an increase in the Patreon highest tier to 4 chapters to make them a little more balanced. It feels more like the tiers are balanced now. 

Paying attention to Beatrice again, I noticed that she was watching me.

"Shall we continue, master? Are we a little desperate and in need of some despair?" Beatrice smirked.

I gave a light tinkling chime. I was glad she was developing a sense of humor. I think this was the first joke she had ever told me. It wasn't as good as a pun, but it made my motor feel warm inside. However, I think it might be an excellent opportunity to teach her about expectations. See, one should always appreciate how much time it takes to clean. When planning a job without a complete model, I found it best to take my best time estimate and multiply it by 3. That's how long it would actually take. Of course, when one gets more experienced, better at estimating, and better at route planning, the estimate will be much closer to the actual time. But just starting out, everyone is an idealist. And she was definitely underestimating this job.

I genuinely believe experience is the best teacher. But as lovely as it would be for her to learn from this if it was something she couldn't handle, I didn't want her to get too hurt. So I lead the way this time. If I was overestimating the danger, I would let her go instead. After all, she'd been handling herself so well already.

I rolled through the doorway into the black abyss. I turned my sanitation lamp on to give my visual sensors better inputs. For some reason, the light of Beatrice's orb didn't extend very far into the room past the arch. But my sanitation lamp had no issues. Not that the sanitation lamp was extremely bright or long reaching. It seemed to genuinely be made for killing germs, not illumination. But it did seem to spread the light a little. As I passed through the arch, nothing happened. Shining my light around, I couldn't quite see the far walls in any direction aside from behind me. Those were just black stones that stretched out to each side. The floor was as dusty as it had been up to this point. However, my sensors were picking up more moisture in the air. Out of sheer curiosity, I attempted to look upwards at the ceiling. I couldn't see that either. This was quite odd.

I could feel the drain on my battery the light was causing. However, I wasn't in any real danger of needing to transmute energy soon. Though I did some quick calculations, the stuff I picked up from vacuuming down here was not enough to sustain this light indefinitely. For some reason, the dust from the stone and dirt here was a lot less energy dense than what I picked up around the castle upstairs. Everything, from the powders thrown by the humans to the dust lying around the cages, seemed to contain more than the simple stone dust I'd been vacuuming. Perhaps 10 times as much energy, so using this dust was less effective than transmuting what I already had. But I did have a decent amount of stuff in my dustpan from earlier. So that should last me a very long time even if I left my light on continuously. Besides, I still had those mess makers stored in case of emergency.

Still, it was best to let Beatrice do most of the fighting if it came to that. But on the other hand, I liked having my sanitation lamp on. It was comforting to see the small symbols flashing in the corner of my vision as I cleaned.

I turned back to Beatrice, and seeing that I was unharmed, she soon followed me.

"You should let me go first, master. I can handle any other skeletons, and there's no reason for you to waste your time with such trivialities."

This was an interesting take from Beatrice. I usually wouldn't disagree. But I still wasn't sure how safe I should be trying to keep her while she was training. That's an instructor's job, after all - I needed to let her learn without getting her permanently damaged. I supposed a little bit of unknown for her was good, but if I also didn't know the danger, how could I control her safety?

But I would think about it. Perhaps in the future, when I felt she was more capable, I would let her take on more risk. But, for now, my trainee deserved some caution. I understood that a bit of risk was necessary to grow, just like I had to risk approaching liquid to combat it. But sending her out first had seemed like an unnecessary one.

Instead of my go-to strategy of going straight into the center of the room and trying to cross it, I followed the wall. It seemed like this would be the best way for Beatrice to follow. I wasn't about to get disoriented or anything. Even if I went to the center and had no bearing on where I came from, I could never forget my path. But this seemed like the best way to find the boundaries, which would give us the best way to plan our cleaning solution. For our eventual cleaning solution, of course. I had to remind myself that we weren't here to clean the entire catacombs. This trip was more of a planning expedition. The main castle took priority.

Idly I checked my sensors and was shocked. The level of bacteria down here was way higher than in the castle. So I left my lamp on, pointing it down to maximize the area covered. Anything I passed over got a strong dose from my sanitation lamp. This significantly decreased the number of bacteria since we weren't moving very quickly. Still, it was not nearly enough to eradicate them. I kept this up until my battery started to dip noticeably, then began to transmute some excess powders. There was no point in storing them forever, especially as my everyday activities could be comfortably powered by the stuff I picked up during them.

Beatrice followed me along the walls. She had stopped talking just after we entered. Previously she had been kind of chatty though I thought it might be from nervousness. I was proud of my observational skills, though. My ability to read human emotions and facial features had improved by leaps and bounds over the past couple of weeks. I should look through my memory banks and see about reinterpreting past experiences with my new understanding. Actually, maybe that was a bad idea. I'm sure I made a fool of myself many times. To avoid feeling shame and embarrassment at my past self, I decided I wouldn't think about it anymore. I would move forward and try to do better in the future without agonizing over the past.

Still, sometimes when I was in a meditative cleaning state, those memories would come forward without me realizing it. So trying to avoid embarrassment only worked so well.

Silence hung over us. The darkness was oppressive and seemed to squish the light that Beatrice's globe gave off. Instead of reaching the regular 20 to 30 feet of solid illumination, it only reached about 10 feet. So it did look a little bit unnatural. We walked for 134.3 yards before we saw the left wall. That meant this was a massive room, especially if that arch had been in the center of the wall. I still had no idea how deep it was, but the height was insane, and so was the width. I had a feeling that if this was the only room, it might be as large as the castle. And if there were more like it, this might be too much for me to clean.

The walls were fascinating. They appeared composed of many open-faced cubbies that covered the surface in a grid-like fashion. I could see shapes inside but couldn't make out what was inside from a distance. Their dimensions were consistent, measuring 6 feet long and 1.5 feet tall. However, they stretched up higher than I could see. Maybe 6 inches of stone were in between each cubby on all sides. Okay, so let's see, each cubby with spacing was 7 ft long and 2 ft high would mean 14 ft of area.

Beatrice started counting softly under her breath as we walked down the wall. It sounded like she was counting not how many she saw in total but how many we passed. I think she was trying to get an idea of how large the room was too. However, this wasn't necessary as I would know exactly how far we traveled.

Name: Leon. Race: Skeleton, Class Type: Warrior, Level: 35

Level 35, that was a mighty warrior. Bee was impressed. It was rare that people got that high level. This Warrior must have lived a life of blood to achieve so many levels. Scanning the next one, she didn't see much difference in levels. So they were all like this?

Bee counted the bodies they passed. She noted that the coffins reached at least 30 feet before Void's light couldn't reach anymore. She also noted that they were set up like someone was trying to maximize the storage space along these walls. . She would need to remember the dimensions so she could work out the math later. She couldn't multiply numbers that high in her head. This was an army. Each time she passed another one of the cutouts of the catacombs, there was another skeleton lying peacefully with a sword, and their hands crossed across their chest. She didn't feel the same sense of cold undeath coming from them as she did from the walking skeletons; she wasn't sure why exactly. But as they passed, she got a closer look at the remains. These ancients weren't idiots, and they also knew how death worked.

Along the edges of each one of the cubbies, there were tiny runes carved in the stone. The runes looked like they had been inlaid with some shiny silverish material. It seemed that the material had warded off the call of undeath. First, the runes shaped it, and then the material provided the magical energy. It was just like a suppression ring. The scale of it all was more astonishing than this, though: the waste of doing this for what felt like countless graves. The amount of time it would have taken to carve each of these. The likely very expensive material to fill it. But more than any of that, Bee thought, was that she had no idea what kind of material could still be effective after all this time. It must have a nearly bottomless energy supply.

Anything that she had read or heard of indicated that magic like this wouldn't last longer than about a month before it started to decay in potency. Maybe there were some fancy materials that extremely wealthy people and influential mages would have access to. But she had read somewhere that even the best materials last a year at maximum. And this tomb had been around for way longer than a year.

Eventually, they reached the end of the wall. She counted well over 300 coffins. That made this room almost as large as the entire castle, at least. However, she wasn't sure how it was supported. Maybe there were pillars in the center that she couldn't see, but by any right, the castle would collapse below unless there was some natural stone keeping it up. She started thinking of this place as less of actual catacombs and more as a massive cave complex. It was a good thing she had packed some supplies.

A note from zaifyr

75% of the way to 4 chapters a week!

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About the author


Bio: After reading pretty much everything I could I figured I would try making some of the stories that I wanted to read.

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