For the rest of the time that he was doing the duty that he had signed up for, Daneel was pretty absent-minded . Again and again, he couldn’t help but think back to that image where the city he had grown up in had been burning, with hundreds of thousands of people being massacred by the Mad Doctor who, for some reason, was finding a lot of joy in doing that act .
The head healer got more and more irritated with him as being absent-minded meant that he was also quite clumsy, but Daneel didn’t care . He had already seen everything that he wanted to, and there would be no coming back here anyway .
The moment he went back to his dorm, Daneel tried to take a deep breath to calm himself, and when he finally managed to do so after a few minutes, he tried to focus on the other ‘lights’ in that space with the hope that he could find something else that he could use in the situation .
Just like he had seen before, most of them were dreams where the Mad Doctor was elaborately torturing each and every person that he didn’t like in the world, and most prominent among these were Ashahell, Daneel’s alter ego and Daneel, himself .
Most of the others also included him killing someone or the other, and some of the targets even seemed familiar . As Daneel thought back to what he had seen in Percy’s consciousness, he realised that some of those faces coincided, which made him once again feel that those like this Mad Doctor should really not be allowed to live even though they were a Champion level powerhouse that would be useful in the fight against the Church .
At least, even if they were allowed to keep their life, they should be shackled and completely restricted from going about killing randomly . Daneel was sure that pretty much everyone knew about it, but no one said anything because of his status .
There were many spells from the age of the Empire where people like these could be almost shackled like dogs and only be set upon enemies when needed, but Daneel don’t want to go down that route at the moment . First, he had to analyze everything in front of him, and see what he could derive from it .
After a few moments, a thought occurred to him .
The Mad Doctor… Was clearly transferring the hate that he had for Daneel onto the kingdom that Daneel loved so much .
Of course, this hate, in the first place, was because Daneel was associated with the man that had killed his sons, and had resulted in the entire situation where he had been injured by Ashahell .
Daneel could tell that the Mad Doctor mostly did not expect to find that master of his, as he was known to be pretty elusive . That meant that he would simply target those close to him, and this role fell to Daneel . And if Daneel also went into hiding… Well, what he had seen would be what would happen .
Daneel could also tell that he could not trust the High Council of the Head to stop the Mad Doctor . True, they might step in, later on, to stop him from massacring millions, but before that, the man would definitely have at least a few seconds during which he could rampage and kill as many people as he wanted .
In fact, if he was really hellbent on it, then he could even cast a spell that caused mass destruction using everything in his body that would leave him very tired afterward, as he would know that the people who would be coming would only want to stop him, and not cause him harm .
There was no way that Daneel could risk that .
And hence… he realized that his plan of being weakened and surviving was no longer viable .
Over these few days, he had been planning that he would somehow escape when he was near death, which would lead to the test being fulfilled, and to the Mad Doctor being stopped by the Head of someone else .
Yet, now, it was clear that if that happened, the man would go ahead and destroy Lanthanor, so this option could just not be chosen .
Exclaiming in this way, Daneel couldn’t help but get a very frustrated expression on his face, as that plan had been one of the best that had come to him . The test was still the most pressing thing, and this would have allowed him to bypass it completely .
Now, he had to look for other routes .
After thinking for a bit, he realized that he needed a different perspective, which meant that he had to call for his sovereigns .
His work in the Sect of Hedon was pretty much done, and if he wished, he could just come back later .
So, Daneel just used the same method that he had used before where he had Mind Controlled a group that was going outside for some job or the other in order to later break away from them and go back to his Kingdom .
Even though it was a bit harder this time because of the restrictions put in place by the Head to make sure that no group would be vulnerable to an ambush, it didn’t take too much effort, and soon, Daneel was sitting in the sky above Lanthanor after calling an urgent meeting of the sovereigns .
Kellor, Eloise, Robert, Faxul, Luther, Aran, and Elanev were all talking happily among themselves after arriving at the spot, but as Daneel teleported in front of them with a very grave expression on his face, they realized that something was very wrong and looked at him with seriousness .
Daneel didn’t beat around the bush . He directly explained everything that he had been up to, and what he had found out .
The tale that was filled with ups and downs garnered different kinds of reactions, with the revelation that he was being tested by the Church being the one that shocked everyone the most .
After all, the Church was like a block of solid stone hanging on top of them by the flimsiest of ropes that threatened to crush them at any moment, so it was enough to elicit this kind of reaction from the sovereigns .
After that, though, as they heard the acute thinking process that Daneel had been through to list all the plans, eliminate most and focus on the few that were best, they all couldn’t help but feel admiration for the meticulous mind of the King that had, in many ways, allowed him to come this far and achieve so much .
However, finding out that the Mad Doctor would just go ahead and burn up Lanthanor if the plan to escape after being injured was used made everyone’s temper rise .
They showed it in different ways, because of their different personalities . Kellor, Luther, and Robert all only tighten their fists, but their eyes burned with rage . It was more pronounced in Elanev and Faxul, both of whom started to curse under their breath, and in Faxul’s case, even the air around him started to become stifling because of the pressure that came to be due to the bloodline of the Black Raven .
As for Aran, he got a very mischievous look on his face, as if he was daydreaming of what he would very much like to do to the Mad Doctor, and finally, it was Eloise who got both angry and worried, because she really didn’t want to see the kingdom that she loved so much being razed into ashes .
“If he tries that, why can’t I just go stop him?”
It was Faxul who said this, and true, if he tried, he would be able to do it .
Yet, even he knew why that couldn’t be done .
“Exposing your power is the stupidest thing we can do right now . With secrets being exposed left and right, it is best to keep things such as yours, Aran’s and Elanev’s power a secret . True, Elanev is already quite famous for his power in the sect, but I reckon that that old man is making him train something special and different from what he has displayed that will surprise even them if it is revealed . Am I right?”
In return, Elanev nodded, but along with the others, he sank into deep thought as they had to find a solution to this .
Daneel had already thought about it on the way over, and nothing new had occurred to him . He tried going to the old plans again, but they weren’t appealing at all with this risk hanging over him .
Soon, discussion started, but Daneel wasn’t too happy with the things that had been proposed .
For example, Kellor asked whether they could use some kind of formations that they could say they had found in the records of Lanthanor to stop the Mad Doctor at least temporarily until the High Council or the Head arrived .
Sadly, this couldn’t be done as the man’s power would apparently be boosted, and any formations that could stop an Exalted Champion would definitely not be ones that could be just passed away with this kind of explanation .
Aran then asked whether there was some way in which the time of response of the other Heroes on the continent could be decreased, such as luring the Mad Doctor to get to where they were . Even though Daneel appreciated his commander’s cunning mind, he could tell that this also wouldn’t work, as even though the Mad Doctor had his moniker of being ‘mad’, he would definitely retain enough of his intellect to know that he should focus on his targets . And besides, Daneel didn’t know right now just what factors would impede the other Heroes, but whatever they were, he was pretty sure that the Church would be pretty thorough in implementing them .
Finally, silence descended over the spot in the sky where the sovereigns were seated, and it looked as if there was no solution to be found .
In the silence, Robert, who had been quiet until now as if he had been pondering on something finally spoke up .
Until now, his father hadn’t been that much of contributor to the discussions they had had, so even though Daneel quirked up and listened, he didn’t have too many expectations .
“I don’t know whether this will help, but this situation reminds me of a story I heard from my Commander from the time when I was a Captain in the Army . You know of him, Daneel . He was the one who asked us to take that plot of land and live there after I was banished . He died soon after, of old age . ”
A story from that man?
Daneel was intrigued right away, as that man was another mystery that he had yet to solve even though he had been in Angaria for so long . He had somehow known that the Natural Energised Training Chamber that Daneel had found later was under that spot of land, and hence, he had asked Daneel’s father to take it and live there . Later on, Daneel checked the records, but what he had seen was that although there were reports that he died after retiring, there was no known family or body to be found . The reasonable conclusion was that he was just a loner, and Daneel had had no option but to take it .
The others also raised their heads and started to listen, as they were all blank anyway .
“There was once a famous bandit who operated right outside our walls . He constantly terrorized all the trade caravans that exited our walls, and because of him, there was a major impact on trade . The problem… Was that he was actually the half-brother of the King of Axelor, which, at that time, was the strongest kingdom of the continent . They claimed that they had gotten support from the Big Four, and this put everyone in a cautious position . If we went ahead and killed that guy, it might have resulted in us being targeted, and the king didn’t want that . So… The commander made a plan . 1000 of us went out to meet them, and we were beaten back mercilessly . This was all a farce, but the bandit was known to find joy in seeing armies running, and that night, he was so happy that he…drunk himself dead . Well, at least, that was the public story, but the truth was that the commander, himself, stealthily killed him and spread the story, and there was no way to find proof as the rest of the bandits found the leaders body and mutilated it is the man was known to hide a lot of treasures on his person . All of these bandits were chased for months and then eradicated by the King of Axelor, and of course, we were happy because we solved our problem with no casualties except a little bit of lost honor . I don’t really know how this applies, but I felt that it might help in your thinking . ”
An intriguing story, indeed .
Daneel began thinking on this, and at first, he didn’t get any new ideas .
Yet, he went through his father’s story bit by bit, and finally, inspiration struck him .
As a smile appeared on his face, the gears in his mind started to turn, and something…started to take form .