Things worse than death? Kenshin found that statement rather ridiculous. Although the poison had been torturing him for a long time, he barely had any memories of the experience, all he remembered were the feelings he felt. Despair, anger, sadness and fear. Especially fear.
What he was afraid of, he was not sure of but Kenshin was confident that his entire being had been filled with an intense feeling of dread, throughout the entire experience. Even at this moment, the feeling of dread was still gnawing at him but his soul had become somewhat accustomed to it, so he did not mind.
No one knows what it’s like to experience torture as much as I have, yet he dares say that he has experienced something worse than death? Preposterous!
“Alright then, you may brand me. Oh, if you are going to include memories, best include ones with skills and knowledge as well. Another advantage of this ritual is that it allows us to exchange knowledge and experience. So if you have any useful knowledge and skills, which I doubt, then include them in your brand,” said Kenshin.
Bastian frowned at Kenshin’s assumption that he had no useful knowledge or skills. Bastian had little pride but all of what little pride he had was in his intellect. As a scientist, he knew a lot Kenshin did not, so in his brand he decided to give Kenshin what he wanted.
Okay smartass, let’s see how you’re going to handle theoretical physics. All the way from the basics to quantum physics.
Bastian did not want Kenshin to know that he was up to something, so he put on the dumbest looking expression he could and said, “Well, I don’t know much but I will try my best.” As he said these words, Bastian had a hopeless smile, but his heart was snickering. He resisted the urge to snort in disdain
Oh man you are so gonna get it. Death? You think that is torture? Well then, let’s see you get your head around Heisenberg’s theory of uncertainty haha.
Kenshin nodded and puffed his chest outward. The branding could be done anywhere as they were already in soul form, Kenshin was indicating that he wanted the brand on his chest. Bastian did not mind and started concentrating.
Due to the knowledge that Li had given him, Bastian already knew how to do this. First he had to delve deep into his mind and select the memories he wanted. Then he had to copy and use his Soul Force to condense them with a part of his soul, into a brand which would be in a shape of his choosing.
Bastian chose memories involving data about earth. From its history, culture to almost everything Bastian knew about it. Bastian only left out personal details like his own identity and the people he knew in person. Manipulation of memories was a bit tricky but Bastian was able to take care of it, thanks to the knowledge Li had given him and his own knowledge of the human mind.
Bastian opened his palm, a strand of Soul Force dropped from above, digging into his palm and getting something out. It was a brand in the shape of a Taiji symbol.
Kenshin was surprised when he saw the brand and gasped in shock, unable to hold himself back. “You, you know yin and yang?” said Kenshin in disbelief.
“Whether or not I know, you will soon find out. Now, are you ready?” said Bastian with a grin.
I don’t like his face, it looks like he is up to something. Sigh, we can’t go back so I have to brace myself.
Kenshin nodded. Bastian guided the brand onto Kenshin’s chest and plastered the palm sized Taiji onto Kenshin’s chest. The symbol sunk into Kenshin’s chest like a pebble dropping into a pond. The event caused ripples to move across Kenshin’s body. The ripples continued until a two dimensional image to the Taiji appeared on Kenshin’s chest.
Bastian carefully observed Kenshin’s face. He was curious to see how Kenshin would react to all of that knowledge. Bastian was not disappointed by what he saw. Within moments of the brand finalizing its implantation, Kenshin’s face moved.
Kenshin had been brought up in a family where it was deemed unseemly for men to be emotional. From a young age, he had always been taught to be emotionless, especially considering his circumstances. Thus one could arguably say that it would take a boulder to make this boy scream. It seems at that time, he had met a mountain.
His wails and screams were so loud Bastian had to block his ears with his hands. Kenshin collapsed onto the ground and started rolling on the ground. His face contorted in bitter agony as he screamed at the top of his lungs. The buzzing from the ghost like creatures outside and Kenshin’s screaming made a somewhat unpleasant experience.
Wasn’t he supposed to be the one suffering? Why am I the one suffering instead? But damn, I knew it would be a lot to take in but this is extreme. He is really freaking out. Did I really know that much? Or did he really know too little.
Seeing the boy suffering again, a small strand of pity started drilling its way into Bastian’s heart. He started feeling guilty for what he had just done. After a while, the screams started lessening and Kenshin’s movements gradually got less intense. Until he became silent and absolutely still.
Bastian crouched onto the ground, he was curious, he wanted to know how Kenshin would react to this little endeavor. Bastian’s face hovered above Kenshin’s face, observing every minute detail.
Kenshin’s eyes suddenly opened, with a violent movement, he stood up and started choking Bastian, hoisting the latter’s body in mid air. His eyes were filled with rage as he thought of what to say to the dangling Bastian.
In this form they didn’t need to breathe, so he was not really doing any harm to Bastian but it was still an uncomfortable position to be in.
“Who are you!” shouted Kenshin in an enraged tone. Bastian stopped resisting and smiled. Ever since he had arrived at the Sovereign Continent, he had always had the urge to tell someone who he was and where he was from. At that moment, it seemed he could finally act on his urge.
Using a strand of Soul Force, Bastian pulled himself from Kenshin’s grip and landed on the ground. His smile exuding a confidence that befitted his new handsome face. “Come now Kenshin. Don’t ask questions to which you already know the answer to. The real question you want to ask is how I know this right?”