It was getting dark by the time the small gathering of huts came into Bee's view. The trail didn't lead directly there; instead, it led into a huge clearing in the forest and just kind of stopped. In the center of the clearing were small squat buildings with thatched roofs, but all around were fields growing crops. The trail took her a quarter of the way around the clearing before she found a clear path through the fields where she wouldn't trample over any crops as she approached.
It was taking her way longer than expected to get there. Almost an entire day of walking. Her Improved Pathing skill had prevented her from getting lost, but she wasn't sure it had expedited the trip. There were several unexpected forks on the trails, and she always knew which one to take, but the way it led her through a lot of the more minor obstacles resulted in a lot of her falling down or having to spend time picking burrs out of her pants.
By the time she had made it to the hamlet, the sun was disappearing behind the horizon. As she was about halfway through the field, an older lady spotted her and gave her an inquisitive look. The woman yelled something over her shoulder, and a young man jogged out of one of the huts. Taking one look at Bee, he ran toward her.
As he approached, Beatrice got a better look at the man. She'd been able to tell he was older than her from a distance, but now that he was closer, she could tell that he had reached manhood fairly recently. Out of habit, she ran a scan on him.
Name Anthony Gonzalez. Level 6. race human. Class: farmer.
Oh nice, her Scan had given her more information. It gave her both a specific class as well the last name. She guessed those were effects of leveling up. She was rather impressed by what she saw, though, since she expected a level 6 man to be older. He must have worked really hard. The farmer class was a common one but still one that provided substantial benefits in its field. Trying to farm without it was practically impossible. Still living out here in such a remote area must have given him plenty of options to hunt to receive those first five levels.
Bee stopped and waited for Anthony to reach her. Her tiredness had started to take its toll, though quietly and without her noticing too much. She didn't even realize that she needed steadying when he reached out his hand and gripped her shoulder gently. She looked up into his face and found his eyes. They were sky blue with speckles of green in them. His eyes were hidden behind the long lashes and a fringe of dirty blonde hair that flowed down his forehead. After she took in his eyes, she glanced over the rest of his face. That was when she realized his mouth was moving.
"Sorry, what?" Bee blurted out.
"Are you okay?" He repeated. She watched his eyebrows pinch together in worry. Apparently, she had been staring while he waited for a response.
"Yeah, I guess I'm just tired." Bee finally said. "I didn't realize that the trek was only half a day on a horse."
"Where did you come from?" Anthony asked. As he spoke, he moved to help her out of the pack. She obliged, shrugging out of the straps. The pack almost hit the ground when she dropped the weight off one shoulder so he could take it. Anthony swung the pack over his shoulder with a grunt giving her an appraising look.
"I came from the castle. Do people come from anywhere else?"
As Bee spoke, she gestured to the trail she had come from. Anthony shook his head, "No, but usually we expect William, and he normally rides a horse with a train of pack animals."
"Oh." Bee blinked slowly. "Just me this time. There have been some, uh, changes at the castle."
"You are one of the apprentices, right? I didn't know that they took them in so young! And they didn't even give you a horse. How are you supposed to bring anything back with you?"
"Hey, I'm 13!" Bee pouted. At this point, no one would get away with treating her like a child. "But I've only been there for a couple of months. I'm actually the only one there, righ-"
"What! They left you all alone there? WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?"
Bee winced at that last outburst. He sounded angry and had been rather loud. "There were some extenuating circumstances. I don't blame them."
Anthony took a deep breath and held out a hand. "I'm sorry, where are my manners? I forgot to introduce myself, I'm Anthony, but my friends call me Tony." He said with a smile.
"It's nice to meet you, Tony," Bee said, feeling her cheeks heat up. She was glad she hadn't accidentally called him by his name before he introduced himself. That was one pitfall to watch out for with Scan. She also had forgotten to introduce herself. As a guest, how rude was it to show up unannounced and not even say who you were? Bee guessed she had technically said who she was but just forgot to state her name. "I'm Bee."
"So Bee, were you not able to go home to your family after everyone left?" As Tony spoke, he began to lead her back to the huts. Now that Bee wasn't carrying her pack, walking felt much easier. "What brings you out here?"
"Well, I'm in a bit of a bind. I need to buy some food and maybe get some help with repairs." Bee kept things simple for now. If she went into her long list of problems, she might overwhelm him. That and the demon situation. Tony didn't need to know about it yet.
The man's mouth turned down into a frown. "Get some supplies? Repairs? There is no one there, you said, right? Why don't you just leave for wherever home is? If you need to, you can stay here for a while."
That gave Bee some bitter thoughts. "Home isn't really an option. I appreciate the offer of hospitality, and I might just take you up on it for a day, but I really need to get back soon."
"Well, at least stay the night. You are not getting back today even if you left now." Tony pointed at the stars beginning to faintly show overhead. "My parents even have a spare room. It's no trouble at all."
Bee gave a grateful nod as they walked towards the group of huts; Tony told her a little about life in the hamlet. Apparently, there were a few families that lived out here for nine months of the year. During the winter, they would go stay in Greg while there were no crops to tend. Apparently, supplying the mage's college was more of a long-term job that paid rather well. This was the first year his older sister hadn't come to help, as she had gotten married to a local merchant in the city, and without her help, his parents weren't sure how much longer they would be able to keep this up.
He was the oldest of six brothers and sisters that provided most of the workforce. All but his sister were here to help with the crops. However, his parents were getting up there in age. This job had paid well enough for them to buy a nice house in Greg, and they had probably saved enough to retire. They had been trying to convince Tony to take over their family business ever since his sister married.
"Do you want to run the family business?" Bee asked. Between her lightened load and the casual pace Tony set, she had recovered a bit.
Tony hummed thoughtfully. "I'm not sure, I like it here, and I got the Farmer class, so it would make sense. But I've been doing this since I could walk, about 20 years now. I would like to go somewhere new for a bit. Maybe have my own farm. Sure the castle pays really well, but it's not the same as running your own thing."
As Tony continued on, telling her about his family and hamlet, Bee just listened. Tony was a talkative guy, but not in an overbearing way. Honestly, he was good at telling stories. The way he spoke with a captivating, soothing tone. Not just the words he said but the way he said them. He spoke with such passion and seemed to not just be speaking for speaking's sake. He would pause to make sure she had a chance to speak if she wanted to, and sometimes she asked a question about what he thought or what kind of crops he liked. Not that she knew anything about crops or farming, but he made it sound so interesting. She felt like she could listen to him talk for ages.
Soon Bee found that they were in the hamlet proper. Tony pointed out the hut nearest them as a couple of younger children came out to greet them. A boy and a girl, both a few years younger than Bee. Tony called out to them. "Maranda, go tell Ma that we have a guest for dinner."
The girl, Maranda apparently, grinned widely. She darted back inside with a quick "'Kay!"
The boy ran up to them and started peppering Tony with questions. "Who is she? Where did she come from?"
Tony just laughed and reached out to ruffle the boy's hair. "She is right here. You can ask her yourself."
The boy followed Tony's gesturing hand, his eyes not quite meeting Beatrice's. His face turned red, and he muttered something to the ground. Tony nudged Bee's shoulder, a faint look of surprise flashing across his face when she didn't even budge. He caught himself quickly. "Haha, don't worry. Jake still can't talk to pretty girls."
Now both of them were bright red. Tony just laughed at the children and led the way to the farmhouse entrance. Bee realized that he had misjudged the size of what she thought were huts. They were really just much further away than expected. Now that she was up close, they seemed to be ordinarily-sized houses. As they walked in, the cacophony of children's voices and banging pans assaulted her ears. She soaked it in. After all these days alone, Bee felt the presence of so many friendly people wash over her.
I was quite surprised to see the woman stick her head out the door. I was even more surprised when she yelled at me and then began running. What was she doing? I wasn't sure what her plans were, but running in that direction, she was pretty certain to find a demon. I had been clearing out all the enemies starting from the front of the castle by the entrance and working my way backward. But she was running right into a troublesome area. I zoomed ahead of her, trying to cut her off. She must have heard me coming because she started running faster when she looked back and saw me.
I really didn't understand humans. I didn't think the demons would be very nice to her. Despite her best efforts, I was much faster, and I spun around in front of her with a warning beep. I did my best to impress upon her that this was not the direction she should be going. If she really needed to go for a walk or get some exercise, she should do so in the safe areas at the front of the castle.
She seemed to get the message as she skidded to a halt and started running just as fast in the other direction. Which, to be fair, was not very fast. Honestly, even Beatrice could probably outrun her. Curious about what she was planning on doing, I followed her at a distance matching her pace. I stayed close but tried to keep enough distance so as not to scare her.
I had promised Beatrice to look out for her. So I needed to be close enough to help her if she got too close to an earth demon. As I followed her, I tried to do a bit of cleaning, just so I wasn't completely wasting time. If I wasn't going to be removing more earth demons right now didn't mean I couldn't be productive.
When she ran down the stairs to the front door, I wasn't able to follow anymore. Well, at least there weren't any demons out there that I knew of. She would probably be safe. It was where she belonged, after all. I hope she made it home just fine. As long as she didn't come back.
Support "All the Dust that Falls: A Roomba Isekai Adventure"
Bio: After reading pretty much everything I could I figured I would try making some of the stories that I wanted to read.