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Daneel could almost hear the Head smile even though the man was not near him. He needed someone to be in the Order and keep an eye on the continent just in case something came up when he wasn't here. With the Head and his sovereigns both staying, Daneel was confident that no matter what the problem might be, there would be no issue, whatsoever, so he completely s.h.i.+fted his focus to this new threat that they had to handle.
Turning to the group of Heroes, he spoke to the system in his mind.
"Check whether the quant.i.ty is sufficient."
[Scan concluded. From data gathered so far, number of Heroes who were loyal to host is sufficient for activation of host's path.]
That was all he needed to hear.
"We can talk on the way over. Let us set off. Just one thing: thank you for placing your trust in me. You will not be let down."
He saw many nods in the crowd, and after he turned around, they even looked at each other, a.s.suring themselves that they had made the right decision.
With that, they set off. The a.s.sa.s.sins had shot presumptions looks at the large group which was around 150 strong, but they had not said anything. Their thoughts were clear, though. From the way they dismissed them, Daneel could guess that they must be thinking that not many of the Heroes would return, but he was determined to come back with just as many people as he was setting out with.
The a.s.sa.s.sins set the pace. It wasn't a breakneck one, but it was still near the upper bound of what most Heroes could handle. She had also taken out the same Artefact that she had used before to get them to the eye in the sky, so they were mostly protected from the fury of the lightning that had spelled the doom of the Eskilon family. On the way, Daneel saw many of the Heroes look at the sky apprehensively with alarm on their faces whenever a particularly large lightning bolt struck down, and he knew that this was because of what they had heard about the fight that had happened over the sea before.
In front of the large group, Daneel was flying just behind the a.s.sa.s.sins.
As he had a little bit of free time, he was reflecting on everything that had happened the past day, and that was when it finally hit him.
A very, very important nugget of information had been let out by Husare almost casually, and because he had been completely engrossed in the matter of the fate of Angaria, he had been so distracted that he hadn't paid that much attention to it.
That was what she had called a person who might make them lose the battle in an instant if they arrived, so did that mean that that was the level above Heroes?
Due to the short nature of their conversations, he had never had the chance to ask his master about this, as it had not concerned their survival. Jonah had mentioned them, offhandedly, though: he had said that all those in that realm were too important and that it was very, very unlikely that one of them would set out to deal with such a 'backwoods continent', as they kept calling it.
This was the first time he was hearing a name put to the realm, though, so with burning curiosity, he flew forward and asked, "You mentioned Saints, before. Is that the realm above that of Heroes?"
All three a.s.sa.s.sins looked at him with contempt, as if he was a student in school asking about the curriculum of a grade far above his.
Daneel was in no mood to wait, so he directly said, "I command you to answer."
This made the grimaces return, but he couldn't care less. As Husare opened her mouth to give the answer, he looked at her intently.
"In a way, yes. Saints are the individuals who have reached a level of power far above that of those whom you call 'Peak Heroes'. Each of them reach their level in a unique manner. The way they do so is the most guarded secret of any force, as they are the rock that they rely on to keep their foothold in the Mainland. If a strong force does not have someone at that level, they can be swept over instantly, so it is a prerequisite to have at least a few individuals who have crossed the Heavenly Barrier."
All of this was interesting, but Husare was not giving him the answer that he needed.
"I command you to give me a straight answer. What is the realm above Heroes? How many such individuals are there on the Mainland? What kind of power do they wield? How does one cross the Heavenly Barrier, and what is it, anyway?"
In a tone in which he did not try to hide the irritation that he felt, he shot off these questions, but without answering, the three a.s.sa.s.sins looked at each other like a gaggle of liars who had been caught together.
All three were not human, so Daneel could not see the tell-tale signs of a blush or something else that might indicate that his hunch was right.
However, the feral man's whiskers were twitching, pebbles were falling from the body of the man made of stone, and Husare's snake-like eyes were narrowed much more than usual.
So, trusting his senses, he said, "You don't know, do you? You looked at me as if it was shameful for me not to know, but the truth is that even you are not privy to this information? Haha!"
His laughter made indignation spread across the eyes of all three of them, and it was the stone man who spoke out in an attempt to regain their lost pride.
"It is forbidden! On the Mainland, it is forbidden to have information about that level unless you reach it, too! If someone nears that barrier, they can approach the force that they are in, where they will be given information about how they can cross it… But as to what lies beyond, none of us know!"
Daneel was taken aback as he heard this. So he was right?