Bee did her best to search for eggs while the chickens ate. She was lucky enough to find several that weren't too covered in droppings and filth. However, she had no way of telling which ones were fresh and which were not. She supposed she had two options: either leave them and let them hatch or collect them all, toss them and then wait for new ones to be laid. Though looking at how quickly they were cleaning up their feed, she wasn't sure how much food the chickens would require daily. Also, she wasn't sure how chicken egg-laying practices worked.

She started to gather all of the eggs she could find. Not that she found more than a couple that had fallen out of reach of the chickens. It was hard to do one-handed since she sensed that Void didn't want to touch the ground here. She had made to put it down at one point; however, her master had protested quite loudly before she made it halfway there. Looking around the chicken coop, she was pretty sure she understood why. Honestly, she didn't want to be around here any more than she had to. The smell was awful. Still, she found a basket nearby that helped her gather immensely. As she worked, she considered her situation.

She only had so much chicken feed stored away. She wasn't even sure where to get more from. From what she recalled, there was a small hamlet only a day or two away where the castle could get some supplies and fresh goods. That's where the stuff that the college didn't maintain themselves came from, that or the village that was a bit further away. Bee had never been, but she had heard about it from the other apprentices.

Apparently, even calling it a hamlet was a bit excessive. She always figured hamlets to be small villages. Apparently, this was just four or five huts with a few livestock. They were just a group of farmers who wanted privacy, and the land was decent. Sometimes the college had to make quick supply runs and trek down the long road dirt path. It was only barely wide enough for horses, much less a cart or wagon rather than a cart or anything. Since she hadn't heard about the area from her father, she suspected they also didn't pay much in the way of taxes.

The thought of horses made her realize that her next stop had to be the barn. After collecting all the eggs, she put them to the side. She wasn't sure if she had a use for them, but she knew nothing about raising animals. Hopefully, when she checked back tomorrow, there would be some fresh eggs that she knew she could cook. Then, having fed the chickens and filled up their water from the nearby well, she moved on to the next point of interest.

She knew they kept horses in the barn. But she wasn't sure what else. She didn't remember ever having any milk here, so she figured dairy cows were out of the question. And the mages didn't really want to spend more time tending livestock. So she hoped that no surprises were waiting for her.

Pushing open the barn doors, Bee realized the place was empty. She checked several of the horses' stalls, but they all were deserted. Investigating more, she noticed that one stall had a broken latch at the end. The back door out to the corral was busted too. After a bit of neglect, it looked like the horses had broken out. Granted, she knew nothing about horses, but she figured they were trained to stay in their stalls usually. Looking at the back pasture, she just thought a horse probably could have jumped to the fence if it really wanted to.

On the one hand, she was quite glad that she didn't find any dead horses, but on the other hand, it would have been nice to have one around still. It would make traveling much more manageable. She checked the trough, and there was still water there, but it looked like the food in their stalls had all runout.

The chickens might help her with her food situation for a while, but she was going to need help if she wanted to keep them alive. Both with the gardens and chickens. She would run out of chicken food soon anyways.

Having nothing better to do outside, she started towards the castle entrance.

I had to say I was not a fan of the outside. So far, it was all dirt and filth everywhere. I was quite glad to be heading back inside. No wonder why the humans that came from the outside behaved so poorly. If someone had to spend their entire life in the dirt like that, it's not surprising that they would have no manners. Still, Beatrice appeared disappointed in her finds. It seemed that she didn't get the food she needed.

I was not sure how I would solve her problem. Honestly, I believed it was something she had to figure out for herself. But, of course, if she asked for help, I would be more than willing to oblige.

When we got to the top of the stairs inside the castle, I was finally set back on the ground. I felt an urgent need to clean myself even though I hadn't touched the floor at all outside. Hopefully, my Automatic Maintenance would help with that. I'd have to experiment and see. But honestly, outside was a horrible place.

We headed back to the library. Beatrice was deep in thought. I assumed she was trying to figure out how to solve the issue that plagued her. It was good practice for her to figure out how to do things herself, so I didn't interrupt. However, when we rounded the corner, we passed the entrance to the great hall. From the alcove with the broom closet in it, I heard some odd noises. Almost like a woman crying.

Beatrice didn't seem to notice at first, deep in thought as she was. So I rolled in front of the door and stopped to get her attention. She also paused and seemed to listen. Her face went through a complicated series of emotions. Surprise, curiosity, horror, confusion, it was quite an impressive progression, to be honest. Eventually, she reached over and grabbed the doorknob to wrench it open.

It was a bit of an unpleasant sight. And in the far corner of the small closet was a woman curled up and shaking violently. She didn't look very healthy. She was quite dirty, and my sensors told me she had a significantly lower percentage of water than an average human.

Beatrice gasped and ran forward to crouch in front of her. She tilted the woman's chin up gently to look into her face. I saw the face of the woman, and I recognized her. She was the woman who had attacked Beatrice. Clearly, this was not one of the good humans. I moved forward to protect my small human, but the woman made no aggressive actions. I remained cautious, though even more suspicious now that I had seen her living conditions firsthand.

The woman looked up into Beatrice's face uncomprehendingly. Beatrice asked her a few questions, but she made no move to answer. There was no recognition in her eyes or anything. Eventually, Beatrice let her head drop and stood back. This motion caused the woman to finally move and look around slowly. Finally, her eyes settled on me, and she started to scream.

Beatrice got between the woman and me. Then she quickly motioned for me to step back. I rolled around the corner out of sight. I couldn't figure out why she was so scared to see me. Sure I tried to scare her off when we last met, but I don't think I was that intimidating. Still, it was hard for me to feel much sympathy for her. She had been part of the group that attacked my human. But if my human was going to treat her nicely, I might as well try to do the same.

"Are you okay?" Bee asked. No, of course, she's not, Bee thought to herself. She tried to put her hand on the woman's shoulder comfortingly but only shied away. "How long have you been in here?"

Looking at the cracked lips, the woman must have been hiding in the closet for quite a while. She was severely dehydrated and clearly in need of a doctor. Was this what I looked like when I was stuck in this same closet? Bee thought to herself. She didn't think she had been this bad. She had ventured out before she was anywhere near this state. Of course, she only had a few lesser demons to contend with, whereas now full-blown earth demons were running around. But then again, she hadn't even made level 1 at that point.

Even after waiting several moments, there was still no answer. Bee wasn't sure what else she could do. She tried one more time. "How did you get in here? I thought you and your friends left?"

This got a slightly different response. The woman started making a keening noise. It was strangely high-pitched, enough that it hurt Bee's ears. That's not progress. Carefully Bee took the woman's hand from her shoulder and started pulling her to her feet. The woman started to resist at first. But Bee soon found that she was stronger than the weakened adventurer.

When Bee had first scanned the woman, she had been at a significantly higher level than Bee. It seemed that in only a few short days, Bee had caught up. It only took a couple of seconds for the woman to give up and allow herself to be pulled to her feet. Bee slung the woman's arm over her shoulders. She half carried, half dragged the woman out into the hallway. The woman made no move to assist Bee but wasn't fighting her either. Her head simply laid against the smaller girl's shoulder as her feet dragged on the floor.

Checking the woman's face with her free hand, Bee realized why. It seemed that the woman had passed out. Bee stopped trying to support the woman and just picked her up, cradling the unconscious woman against her chest. It was an awkward position. Not because Bee didn't have the strength to do so but because of the size difference. It just put into perspective how much stronger Bee had become since meeting Void. She was at a high level now, well beyond what someone her age would have ever dreamed about, but her proportions were still the ones of a young girl.

Carrying her awkward burden, Bee made her way from the library toward the closest room. She watched as her master sped ahead. Bee hoped that it was going to clear the way for them. She really didn't think she would be able to escape from even a lesser demon like this.

She made it to the first bedroom without seeing any demons at all. She silently thanked Void for protecting her and turned slightly to grab the door handle. It was a bit awkward to open, but she managed it. When navigating through the doorway, she bumped the woman's feet against the door frame but managed to keep her head from doing the same. Once inside, she set the woman down on the bed.

Taking her water skin, Bee carefully dribbled water over the woman's parched lips, praying that she wouldn't end up drowning her. With a slight cough, the woman swallowed a couple times. Bee sighed in relief. When the woman's eyes fluttered open and saw Bee's face, she shrunk back and quivered, whimpering. Eventually, Bee gave up trying to talk to her, just leaving her some water on the nightstand.

She shut the door behind her as she left. She supposed that that would keep the woman as safe as anywhere else in the castle. Bee made her way back to the library, where she found Void waiting for her. "I don't think I'll be able to care for her. She seemed to almost be as afraid of me as you. She must still think that I'm possessed or something. Well, I guess she would still think I'm serving a demon. I think we are going to need help. Both with her and with food. Maybe I can get some help with the Lieutenant too…."

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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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