Chapter 705: 705
Daneel could only watch bemusedly as the man went on and on, and even though he was really expressive and looked like he would do great on stage on Earth if he hosted some hit show, the King of Lanthanor was too concerned with the information that was being revealed to him to dwell on idle thoughts like these .
Xandar, the Shapeshifter .
First and foremost, Daneel checked the memories of the Emperor through the system to see if this man really was who he said he was .
Back when the Emperor had begun his plan of implanting Bloodlines in humans, he had used both the methods of convincing Godbeasts and forcing them to pass on their power .
That act of passing it on apparently weakened them a lot and even made them risk death, so the Emperor had had no option but to use the latter a lot more than he wished . Although he tried to offset it with bribes, it apparently hadn’t worked, as almost all Godbeasts valued their long lifespans and wouldn’t be prepared to give them up unless there was no other choice .
The Shapeshifter, just like he had said, was one who had acquiesced willingly to follow the plan of the Emperor . Yet…the man couldn’t have imagined that such a safeguard would be placed .
As Daneel thought about it, it did make sense . These were proud beings who had made the choice to pass down their power, and it would be an act of betraying them if someone else tried to steal that power from a descendant who was worthy in their eyes because he had been lucky enough to be born as their blood .
As for the news that no one else would find out…Daneel really hoped that it was true .
This was the second time in a few weeks that he had felt naked due to all of his secrets being exposed, and Daneel didn’t like it one bit . This was even worse than before, as each and every action he had taken since coming to this world were laid bare, and one of his closest secrets-that regarding his origin, had been exposed .
That last part was something he had never thought would happen .
The man seemed to be waiting for Daneel to respond, and when he saw him look up again after comprehending his words, he reached forward and punched Daneel’s shoulder before laughing and saying, “Come on, be free! If you have any questions, you can ask them . But if you’re expecting me to give over my memories in the same way that wisp of consciousness of Fenoras did…dream on . I’ve got a loooot of stuff I don’t want ANYONE to see, and the skeletons in my closet can probably fill up the space of your entire Kingdom . So…ask away . Do you mind if I eat, by the way? I must say that in almost all the arts, your world is much more advanced than ours . But living mundane, mortal lives with no power, no magic and no chance of something greater to pursue in life…count me out . No wonder so many people find escape in reading books about people being hit by a truck and being magically transported to other worlds!”
By this point, it was quite clear that Xandar, the Shapeshifter was a…blabbermouth .
It reminded Daneel of Drakos, as both of them seemed to have a habit of going off on tangents .
He seemed to have asked the question rhetorically, though, as the next moment, he materialized a plate on which a perfectly cut and cooked piece of steak was glistening, along with stewed vegetables and a sauce that smelled heavenly .
Daneel almost salivated unconsciously as he saw this, because just like the man had said, the art of cooking still had a long way to go on Angaria when compared to that on Earth . Besides, the poor life that Daneel had led on Earth had never allowed him to enjoy these kinds of luxuries, and he had only been able to dream about them .
That was only for a moment, though, as the issue regarding Daneel’s current situation was still quite pressing .
“I can be free if you let me be free,” he said, as he still had no control of the rest of his body .
With a nod, Daneel regained the ability to move, and he first stretched lightly as it had been pretty torturous to only be able to move his neck .
After that, he asked the question that came to him first .
“So you knew about different worlds? Do you have any idea how I came to be on Angaria, in the first place?”
Hearing this question, Xandar, who had just begun to chew a mouthful of the food, raised his hands and said, “Whoa, there! I was just as shocked as you were when you first came to Angaria . For a second, I even wondered whether all of that could be a crazy dream in your head . I even double-checked! Only, I had time to act surprised alone, so I seem calm now . I had no idea that there were different worlds out there, and I have no clue how you came to my land . I know you don’t know, either, so I didn’t bother asking . ”
Because the man looked like he had easily taken the facts regarding Daneel’s origin in stride, he had wondered whether it was possible that the Godbeasts knew of worlds like Earth .
Clearly, that was not the case .
Feeling just a tad bit disappointed, Daneel moved onto the next question .
He had set his mind into a clinically precise mode where his only goal was to survive, so it was working hard to give him the questions he could ask whose answers might help him in the test he would be facing soon .
It was already a foregone conclusion that he couldn’t get out of this place by himself, as Daneel had already asked the system and gotten the answer that it was helpless .
“What exactly is it you find inadequate inside me, that is making you put this test?”
The man stopped the fork that was about to put a piece of the juicy steak in his mouth and answered, “Stop trying to make me give up information . You’ll understand everything in good time . You have one last question . ”
The change in mood of the Shapeshifter made Daneel understand that even though he seemed like a jovial guy, he was pretty dead serious about this test .
So…as it was his last question, Daneel decided to play big, instead of playing it safe .
“What do I need to do to make you give me at least a part of your memories that I might be able to use when I pass your test?”
The fork paused again, but this time, both it and the plate vanished, and the Shapeshifter burst out laughing .
Clapping twice, he said, “Now that’s more like it! About time the King inside you came out . The answer is no, there is nothing specifically you can do, but I might be tempted to do you a favor depending on how the test goes . Now…shall we begin . ”
Straightening his back, Daneel nodded .
He had already tried to guess what the question would be…but all of his guesses were thrown out of the window when Xandar spoke .
“When do you want to die?”
Xandar almost sounded like a typical villain who was threatening to kill Daneel, but after looking at the expression of surprise on his face, the Shapeshifter chuckled and said, “All right, fine, I’ll phrase it correctly . You see, this is a question I ask a lot in all the Baptisms, so I invented a way to make it sound…better . At the risk of making it sound ambiguous, of course, but I think it’s worth that risk . Anyway…What do you wish to achieve? I have always believed that a man’s goals define who he is, and if you didn’t know, I’m all about that ‘who are you’ thing . Don’t you think I would be able to settle down comfortably as an introspective guru in your world? Anyway, getting back to it, I want you to tell me what exactly it is you want to do in life . Fenoras had an answer at the ready, and he succeeded on the first try . To be fair, though, I’m giving you ten chances . If you were a century older, I would have given you just one chance, too . Oh, hell, I’ll be more considerate . I’ll also throw in an advantage . So…go ahead and answer . 10 tries, and then, BOOM! It’s all over . I’ll implode, and take you with me . ”
When Xandar said the ‘BOOM’ part in a loud voice along with displaying the action of something blowing up with his hands, Daneel had had no option but to flinch, as it was something that was just a bit too scary .
The rest, though, put him in a contemplative state .
It sounded like a simple question, and even though there were ten tries, Daneel didn’t want to take any chances .
However, he did have a question to ask .
“What is the advantage?”
“Simple . The advantage is that you can relive your life once to find the answer . But if you choose to do so…you will only have one more chance to answer . I’ve always found that this gives one the perspective that is needed for the final push to find the answer . But if even that fails, I think whoever that fool is is unworthy . Some whined that this was unfair, but they’re all dead . By the way, this is obviously different from you thinking back to all the moments of your life . If you choose it, you will be a spectator in your mind and you will have the chance to once again experience each and every exact emotion and thought that came to you, which is impossible in another way . ”
Reliving his life?
Yes, it made sense why this would give one a new perspective .
However, he chose to test the waters first .
After thinking, he had decided that the best option was to eliminate the obvious, first, so that he could get a clearer idea of what Xandar was looking for .
“I wish to save Angaria from the Church, and create an Empire that will flourish and allow the people to live safely and happily . ”
That was the most obvious answer, and the first that had come to Daneel’s mind .
“Wrong . That’s a short-term goal . I want to know what you want to do after that . Do you want Fenoras’s answer, by the way?”
Daneel nodded, even though he could have asked the system for the answer .
“He wanted to reach the highest peak of power possible, and see how the world looked from there . That was always his goal, but as his passion was also to make sure that as few people as possible would have to go through a life like his, he chose to create the Empire . Sadly, circumstances did not allow him to find what he had yearned to see all his life . ”
For the first time, Daneel saw the Shapeshifter get a forlorn expression on his face, and this made it clear just how much he had liked the man .
So…long term goals .
What did he want to achieve in life?
That was basically the question, and it tied into the first form that the Shapeshifter had asked, too . It referred to what all he wanted to have accomplished before he died, so, in truth, it was the best indication regarding what he wanted to know .
As Daneel began to think about this, though, he realized…that he didn’t have the answer .
It looked like he had time, so he chose to use it .
Yet, no matter how much he thought about it, Daneel couldn’t find an answer he was happy with .
All his life, he had been making his goals based on what was presented to him .
He had hated the condition of his family and the Kingdom, so he had chosen to become King .
He had needed the system to accomplish his goals of saving Lanthanor, and a lot of other things, so he had followed the path of World Domination .
He had loved the feeling he got from saving people and seeing them happy, so he had assiduously applied himself to that path .
And of course, the Church was coming, so he had been doing everything to prepare for that .
All in all, Daneel had been allowing himself to be…pushed, along his path, with no final, exact goal in mind .
This realization came like a blow, and when it hit Daneel, it surprised him quite a bit .
What did he really want to do?
When there was nothing else to do that was pressing, what would he choose to pursue?
None of the typical answers appealed to him strongly, which was when Daneel realized something .
This guy had already gone through his memories! If so, he knew all of this!
That meant…that Daneel didn’t have the answer, after all, and he would have to find it .
Disgustingly deceptive .
These two words were best to describe the Shapeshifter, as the 10 tries were all a scam . Anyone would try to find the answer in their memories, but it wasn’t easy to directly find it when they hadn’t known it by then .
So…the best way was probably to relive, and this was where Daneel got an idea .
However, it was almost like Xandar could read his mind, as he shot down Daneel instantly .
“I know that other consciousness in your head can do crazy things, so no cheating . If it allows you to relive your life by yourself, I’ll know, and I’ll count it . ”
Indeed, Daneel had been about to use the system after finding out the real route to the answer .
So…it looked like there was no other way .
Lesser men would have tried to still use the remaining chances, but Daneel had 100% confidence in his assessment . No matter how much he pondered, he knew that he wouldn’t get the correct answer .
Hence, without any more hesitation, he decided to go forth and get it, and frankly, he was quite excited too, as he, himself, hadn’t been able to identify that he lacked this vital answer .
Maybe he would actually have to thank Xandar, but first, he decided to finish this test .
The confidence that he had built up over all these years once again showed itself, as he grinned and prepared to roll the dice, knowing that whatever the answer was, he would definitely find it .
That grin seemed to be within Xandar’s expectations, as he said, “There we go . The smart ones always figure it out quickly . Farewell, for now, and I look forward to your answer . “