Ben felt as if he had been struck by lightning. He had never expected to receive such an opportunity. He tried opening his mouth to say something, but he didn’t quite know what to say. He felt paralyzed, as if his body was no longer his own.
A Soul Sworn was a person, who through a certain ritual, offers up their life in servitude to another. This bond would last until either the master or the Soul Sworn die. It was an unshakable bond that would bind both parties, and nothing could break or interfere with it except death.
Normally one would never want to become another person’s Soul Sworn, because you would effectively become a slave for life. Becoming a Soul Sworn to a powerful person, let alone a Mark Bearer was different, very different. Even though you are essentially becoming that person’s lifelong slave, being a Soul Sworn also has its advantages.
The master of a Soul Sworn is called a Meister. A Meister has complete control of his or her slave. Once one becomes a Soul Sworn, their personality is modified. They will start seeing the Meister in complete reverence. They will find it practically impossible to resist their master’s orders. The rule is if a Soul Sworn disobeys their master, their soul gets destroyed, so they have even more of a reason to obey.
It is for this reason, that any Meister will completely trust any Soul Sworn they have. Another reason why Soul Sworn are valued is because the amount of Soul Sworn one can have is limited by the power of their soul. An average person doesn’t even have a powerful enough soul to have even one Soul Sworn. To have more than one is already seen as being impressive.
Since the number of Soul Sworn one can have is limited, A Meister does not choose lightly. This number or capacity is determined at birth. It cannot be increased or decreased through any means.
Also the amount of times you can do the ritual as a Meister is limited as a result. So if you kill one of your own Soul Sworn and you have reached your limit, then you have lost one more permanently and cannot replenish your numbers.
Thus if you become the Soul Sworn of a powerful person, they would most likely treat you with great value, especially if they have the capability to create only a few Soul Sworn. This boy was young, even if the mark had improved his talent, Ben doubted it could change the power of his soul.
A Soul Sworn is a highly trusted and valued servant. Since his/her fate is tied to their Meister, then the more powerful the Meister is, the better. Not to mention a Mark Bearer!
Ben knew better than to be hesitant when such a chance was before him. He immediately kowtowed to Bastian, and pledged his allegiance to him.
The only issue left was that neither Bastian nor Ben knew how to do the ritual, luckily for them, the little girl did.
“Master, are you sure this girl is to be trusted? What if she tricks us and uses this opportunity to try something?” Ben said with a worried expression on his face.
Bastian only smiled and said nothing. His smile was brimming with confidence, so Ben ended up remaining quiet.
Bastian was very good at reading faces. In his previous life, Bastian was very skilled at this, because his father was a deception expert, who specialized in micro expressions. Bastian’s father started as a psychiatrist but was eventually pulled into behavioral psychology.
From a very young age Bastian was taught how to read faces. Perhaps the father wanted his son to follow in his footsteps, either way he taught Bastian most of what he knew regarding this.
Although Bastian ended up taking a different path, he was still grateful for the skills his father taught him. For not only was he taught how to read faces, he was taught other things like how the human mind works, physiology and even hypnotism.
Thus is was an extremely difficult task to fool Bastian. Only the greatest liars could fool his eyes. During his discussion with the girl, before Ben had arrived, he had made sure that she wasn’t playing any tricks.
He interrogated her and eyed her like a hawk. She showed no signs of lying. If a twelve year old was able to escape his vision, then his name wasn’t Bastian Smith…or Tirius.
The girl used her fingers to draw a strange runic circle on the sandy ground. She then asked Ben to kneel on one side and for Bastian to stand on the other. Ben unlocked Bastian’s shackles and the two assumed their positions.
The other mercenaries who were guarding the perimeter of the camp did nothing. Although Ben kneeling to the boy seemed strange, they assumed it was one of his strange plots.
He was the one who had put both of the children there so he could do whatever he wanted to them. Even when he unshackled Bastian nothing appeared amiss. After all, how many had seen such a rare ritual?
The girl told Ben to prick Bastian’s hand with his knife. She then asked Bastian to drip some of his blood on Ben’s head. This signified that Ben now belonged to Bastian. She gave Ben words to recite then stood from the side to watch.
After the recitation, the runic circle shined a bit, and both men felt something leave their bodies and going into the other. The blood that Bastian had put on Ben’s head, seeped into the latter’s forehead.
Bastian could now tell that he had control over the man. He could somewhat feel his thoughts, he could even tell his location. He felt sure that no matter how far Ben was he would always know where he is.
Ben on the other hand had a look of ecstasy on his face. He felt as if power was seeping into him. Something fundamental about him had changed. He was now stronger, smarter, kinder, less greedy and calmer. It is said that the greater the difference in soul power between the Meister and the soul sworn, the more the soul sworn is affected, and the more he or she becomes like their Meister.
The moment Ben looked at Bastian, his entire being shook with a fervor so vigorous he couldn’t help but cry. To Ben, Bastian appeared like he was a god. Perfect. Powerful. Ben felt like it was his life’s purpose to serve Bastian, that even if Bastian was to step on his face and defecate on him, it would be a great honor.
He kowtowed so hard his head created a ditch in the earth. “Master, please forgive this foolish servant. I disgraced you my Lord, and there is no excuse for it. I will accept any and all punishments you deem necessary.”
Bastian and the girl were astounded. They knew the ritual would make Ben subservient, but they never thought it would be this extreme.
After spending a few minutes trying to stop Ben’s suicidal thoughts, Bastian and the girl decided to sit down and rest for a bit. Ben immediately knelt beside Bastian like it was the most natural thing in the world
Girl: “Well boy it seems you have a very powerful soul, I have seen many rituals, but I have never seen a Soul Sworn as deeply affected as this. This also explains how you were able to fend off incado grass. With such a powerful soul, such a herb is no different from normal grass for you.”
Ben: “Of course my master is incredibly talented. We are simply blessed to be in his presence.”
Girl: “Hmph! If it wasn’t for me, your master wouldn’t even know how to use his mark or gain a soul sworn.”
Ben: “You insolent brat. Stop lying. How could one as incredible as my master not know such things? You are obviously just jealous of my Master’s gift! Master please allow me to teach this brat some lessons in respect.
Bastian: “Relax Ben, she is right. Without her help I wouldn’t have known about how to use the mark this way. Plus she is also a Mark Bearer so it isn’t wise to anger her.”
Ben was shocked. Not only was his master a Mark Bearer, but so was this little girl? It was as if lightning had struck him twice on the same day!
That’s when he realized something. Something that made him very angry.
“Why did you make me serve Master instead of you? Look at what you’ve done!” Bastian and the girl were rather surprised by this response. They didn’t quite understand what he was implying.
“Are you not happy? Why are you displeased? Are you not honored by being your master’s servant?” Said the girl.
Ben scoffed at this remark. “Servant? I’m not even worthy to be an ant under my masters boot! I am angry because you could have connected my soul to yourself you little wench! Now Master has forever lost the opportunity to gain one more servant worthy of his greatness!”
Bastian and the girl were speechless. They never expected the ritual to work so well. Not only was Ben very loyal to Bastian, his reverence did not cloud his reasoning. This was definitely a good thing.
The girl snorted and looked at Ben in contempt. “Why should I contract a worm like you? It is far beneath me. Bastian was just dumb enough to agree. It’s as simple as that.”
Ben was furious. She not only called him a worm, she insulted his master. That was courting death!
The girl was smiling. Looking awfully pleased with her work, she looked at Bastian like she had gotten one over him. Earlier on they had agreed that Bastian would become the Meister.
Due to the fact that she knew how to awaken a mark and taught it to Bastian, it was possible that she was a Mark Bearer herself. Yesterday the girl had made Bastian make an oath to the heavens that if Ben were to arrive, then he were to make Ben into his Soul Sworn.
Bastian easily agreed to this. The girl initially thought she would have to convince him, but she never thought he would agree so easily.
An oath made to the heavens was taken very seriously, if broken, it was believed that you will be severely punished with a lot of misfortune for you and those closest to you, in this life and for your next five lives.
No one on the Sovereign Continent breaks an oath made to the heavens. It is a fate worse than death.
So after Bastian fulfilled his oath the girl was rather pleased with herself. She was feeling smug because she thought that she had gotten one over Bastian that was until Bastian said something that made her face extremely ugly.
Bastian: “Hey I have a question for you girl.”
The girl sat leisurely against her pole (authors note: I could not think of anything else. That’s the honest truth) and looked at the two men who she thought she had fooled.
“Sure go ahead. Although I can’t guarantee I will answer.
Ben cracked his knuckles but Bastian calmed him with a wave of his hand.
Bastian: “In your house, is it against the rules for a custodian to have a soul sworn?”…