Getting around using the cart was much faster. They were able to travel twice as fast in less than half the time. Thomas and Estella took turns pulling it and it was light enough so that even if it got stuck the two of them could easily push/pull it free.
A little over a day had gone by since they started traveling with the cart. Their meals had consisted of meat from the rabbits that Estella hunted, non-poisonous berries that Estella found, and a few wild beets that Estella dug up from somewhere. Thomas could only contribute by feeding Annie and giving her the liquids from the berries that he crushed.
The trees started becoming less dense and soon they came across a place with shorter trees all lined up in a row. Thomas had seen something like this in his past life and if he was correct it meant that people had planted trees here.
Any sign of civilization was appreciated. The forest surrounded the trees that were lined up so there was only one way to go. Thomas decided to take control of the cart since Estella was currently on cart duty. "I think there might be a village up ahead. Look at the trees. It's like somebody planted them here." They'd have to be careful just in case it wasn't a friendly place. "Grab your bow. If something attacks us then you might need it."
After entering the path between the trees and facing away from the forested areas, a structure could be seen up ahead. There was a small dilapidated shack that had its roof caved in from a fallen tree. Judging by the rusted axe left in a stump; the shack belonged to a logger which made the tree falling on it kinda ironic.
After getting closer to the shack, more structures became visible. It seemed like an abandoned village. The small fields that could be seen were overrun by weeds and the dirt road leading out from the village was partially obscured by grass. Seeing a road was good but Thomas wasn't sure if it'd lead to the city. Still, the village had a small creek so they could take this opportunity to fill up on water and maybe gather some vegetables for the road if they could find some in the fields.
Estella wanted to rush ahead to get a drink of water but Thomas stopped her. "We don't know what's ahead. Don't leave my side if you want to stay safe." There were no signs of humans living in the area from what Thomas could see but there could be other threats. Villages would sometimes have dogs to protect their livestock or to help hunters with tracking animals and feral dogs could be more dangerous than even the tougher wild animals like bears. Bears would usually keep to their territory but dogs were used to people so they would often hunt in human territory. One or two might not pose a real threat to Thomas and Estella but dogs hunted in packs.
Thomas looked at the buildings and debated whether or not to search them for supplies. There were no ovens in the furniture from the treasure chamber and the large appliances in the Advanced Arsenal were thousands of points. The rabbits were only bringing in ten points each and he ended up spending way more points than he was earning. If things continued like this then he'd have to start praying to the Administrator for more points.
Still, Thomas didn't think it was a good idea to enter the buildings. Thomas and Estella would have to split up or hope nothing happened to Annie while they searched the place. He'd have to give up on proper cooking gear for now until he could buy some in the city.
After reaching the creek, Thomas noticed a big problem. There were no containers that he could hold water with in the pocket dimension. Although there were canteens and watertight barrels for sale in the Advanced Arsenal, Thomas couldn't use the ability in front of Estella. There was still a lot of time before the sun went down and they couldn't stay for long due to Annie's wounds.
For now Thomas decided to drink the water using his hands and gave some to Annie after he had his fill. Ever since this morning she started eating less and wouldn't drink much so Thomas had to hold her mouth open and drip it into her mouth. Annie's deteriorating condition was a constant source of worry for both Estella and Thomas.
Thomas was doing his best to keep her alive but he wasn't a doctor and he didn't know any healing magic. He did know that it wasn't healthy for her to stay dirty with those wounds but he didn't have any clean water before now. Thomas set down a blanket next to the creek so Annie wouldn't get dirt in her wounds. Thomas lifted the robe used as a blanket on Annie's body and before he could lift her up there was a terrible smell.
Thomas held his nose while Estella vacated the area. It was a natural process but Thomas still couldn't help but think it was disgusting. Annie had been eating and drinking the same as them and couldn't use the bathroom as she liked. He didn't think ahead and Annie couldn't let him know when she needed to go.
Thomas didn't want to clean her up but someone had to do it and Estella had disappeared. With Estella not here, Thomas bought a couple of watertight barrels, a ladel, three canteens, a bucket, and a bar of soap. His points just kept going down but the items were necessary. Especially this time since it'd be dangerous to leave things as they were. Thomas made sure to fill the barrels and canteens with water now while he had the chance and then stored them away before focusing on the task at hand.
Thomas wrapped a cloth around his face to block the smell, filled the bucket with water, and then rubbed a wet scrap of cloth against the bar of soap. He picked up the bucket and washcloth to bring them over to the cart that Annie was laying on. Taking a moment to prepare himself, Thomas rolled up his sleeves and got to work.