The girl stuttered, “Y-you! How did you?”
Bastian replied, “You can ask me whatever you want, but I can’t guarantee that I will answer.”
Ben saw that his master had thrown the girl’s words right back at her. He was very pleased at seeing her distressed look. There was something, however he didn’t quite understand.
“Master, what did you mean by ‘House’ and ‘Custodian’?”
Bastian was about to talk, when he was interrupted by the girl, “Don’t you dare tell this filth anything, or else!”
“Or else what?” Bastian looked straight at the girl, as he challenged her. “I can keep quiet if you want, but in return I want you to answer a few of my own questions. Of course, I will take an oath to the heavens to never tell anyone!”
The girl looked very unhappy. Her brows creased, as if she were contemplating something. After a few breaths worth of time, she sighed.
“Very well, I will answer your questions, but first you have to tell me how you got to know about this.” said the girl in resignation.
Bastian replied, “Sure, but I’m going to have you take an oath also!”
The girl responded, “Fair enough, I will keep whatever secret you reveal.”
Bastian grinned mischievously, “Nope, the nature of your oath will be slightly different to what you think.”
The girl didn’t know why, but Bastian’s grin gave her a bad premonition, like the calm before a storm.
Let’s go back to the events that occurred the day before
“Are you, or are you not, a Mark Bearer?”
Bastian was surprised by what the little girl had said. He never expected her to know about the whole Mark Bearer thing. Heck, even the previous owner of this body didn’t know, although truth be told, he was a sheltered brat so, he didn’t know a lot of things!
“Yes, I am.” Bastian didn’t really care whether or not she knew, he was however curious to know what made her ask. “What made you think I was one?”
This knowledge could be useful in the near future, to prevent anyone else from knowing. Although Bastian didn’t understand the situation of mark bearers, he couldn’t help but be careful, should this information be valuable.
“Your hair, most Mark Bearers from the Southern Grasslands have purple hair.” The girl looked relieved when she heard that Bastian was indeed a mark bearer.
Bastian was surprised, “That’s it? Just from my hair?”
“Purple hair isn’t as common as you would think, besides I didn’t know, I was just trying my luck, and it seems my hunch was right.”
Not to mention the Incado grass didn’t affect you. Only beings with a powerful soul could survive such a thing….
Bastian was not pleased, it seems he was over thinking. The girl had simply taken advantage of his lack of common knowledge. He also felt that this girl was keeping something from him. Plus he also had the feeling that she was not easy to deal with, so he temporarily brushed that thought aside.
“So why do you want to know whether or not I am a Mark Bearer?” asked the girl
Quietly she told him, “I have a plan, one that could get us out of this situation, and it requires you to be a Mark Bearer.”
Bastian couldn’t help but look confused, “How would it help?”
“It seems you have only recently become a Mark Bearer, otherwise, you would have known the advantage the Mark has over normal people,” said the girl, her eyes looking bored, almost as though she didn’t want to explain herself, but had no choice. She continued, “Once you become a Mark Bearer you gain many abilities, some of which I’m sure you know already.”
“Others you will discover over time. One such ability, is the suppression effect. If a normal person sees the Mark there is a chance that they will be suppressed by the Mark’s aura. The weaker their cultivation, the stronger the suppression. Under this state of suppression, you can easily order any weak minded beings around. If it is done right of course!”
Bastian was stunned, this information was not given to him. Heck, he didn’t even know the tattoo could show itself again! This state of suppression sounded very useful, if he had known how to use these powers, he would not be in this situation.
If this is true then, this Mark is…
“Don’t get too happy yet.” The girl interrupted Bastian’s thoughts, much to his annoyance. “Bringing out the Mark is easy, using its suppression is difficult. I estimate it will take a few days for me to teach you how to bring out the Mark, and many more, to be able to utilize its abilities. That is assuming we will still be together for that long…” The girl bit her lower lip, nervousness over their unknown future gnawing at her heart.
Bastian on the other hand was quite happy. Although he didn’t like the idea of being a slave, he was positive that with this ability, his life should be much easier from this point on. This ability sounded similar to hypnotism, something Bastian knew all too well.
At this point, Bastian’s only worry was whether or not this girl was also a Mark Bearer. If she was, why didn’t she just use her own Mark? And if she wasn’t, how could she know this ability well enough to teach it? As to whether or not Bastian could learn the technique then, he wasn’t worried. He was confident that with time, he could teach himself. As long as he could learn how to bring out the tattoo, he would be fine. As to why he was so confident, Bastian wasn’t quite sure himself.
“Okay then, time is of the essence, teach me as much as you can.” Although Bastian was curious know whether what she was saying was true or not, he also realized they had bigger fish to fry.
The girl explained to Bastian that to bring out the Mark, all he had to do was to picture the Mark on his chest, the more defined the image, the better. Bastian had a very good memory, although it wasn’t eidetic, it was far above average. This exercise was therefore simple for him. His intelligence, it seems also came along with his soul, into this body.
Bastian revealed his chest and began immediately. The girl had forgotten to mention that he needed to have his eyes closed, and she was about to mention this to him when the tattoo suddenly appeared on his chest. It was incredibly detailed, down to the tiniest scale. According to the girl’s knowledge, the more detailed the picture in your mind, the more detailed the tattoo on your chest would be.
The fact that Bastian could reproduce it almost perfectly on his first try, with his eyes open no less, was astounding. There was only one explanation, genius! Pure genius! This was not simply a matter of cultivation, but a matter of the soul.
The tattoo would only remain on one’s chest, for as long as one can picture it. This meant that, if the picture in one’s mind began to fade, then the tattoo would become more and more vague, until eventually it disappeared. This wasn’t simply a matter of memory, the picture of the dragon was etched onto one’s soul and was very profound. Even if one had a good memory, bringing it out requires a lot of Soul Force, not to mention maintaining it.
The girl had planned for Bastian to at least be able to have the ability to bring out the outline of the tattoo by the end of the day, yet he had managed a near perfect image on the first try, being able to maintain the image, even with eyes open!
His soul must be monstrously powerful. No wonder the Incado grass didn’t affect him.
“Okay, now what?” Bastian had been marveling at the tattoo, but he needed to learn the suppression technique as soon as possible. His question was ignored completely. The irritated Bastian looked up, only to see the girl had a lifeless look on her face, as though she was a statue. Only when Bastian waved his hands in front of her, did she finally wake up.
Frightened, she backed away quickly, her face looking vigilant. She looked at Bastian as if she was looking at a monster. Her vision wandered to his tattoo, then she started to become entranced by it again, only to forcefully turn her head around and shout, “Y-y-you! What are you?”
Bastian was gob smacked by her question, not quite understanding it, so he answered her as best as he could, “Last time I checked I was human, although these past few days have been a bit odd. Are you alright? You look like you’re afraid of something.”
Bastian felt a sense of déjà vu, the moment she appeared entranced. He felt as though he had experienced this before.
Her face, there is something about her face. She looked…hypnotized!
That’s when it hit him, she looked hypnotized. He had seen that plenty of times in his previous life. Since he had obviously not hypnotized her, there was only one explanation.
The Mark! It got to her!
This was extraordinary. Bastian had thought the Mark would not have any immediate effect, since the girl had said learning the suppression effect would take days. After realizing what had occurred, Bastian removed the Mark from his chest and put his clothes back on.
“Look, I’ve removed the Mark, my chest is covered. You can look now!” After that, no matter what he said, the girl ignored him. She just curled up into a ball near her pole and lay there. This continued until night fall, eventually Bastian stopped caring and went to sleep on the hard ground.
Sleeping with an empty stomach reminded him of the good old days back on earth. Bastian eventually fell asleep while reminiscing.
That day neither of them had been given much food. Since they had become slaves, it was not uncommon for no one to care about them.
Around midnight, Bastian was awoken by the girl. He wanted to know what had happened, but she avoided his questions and stressed that they had no time for discussing such things.
Bastian exclaimed, “No time! Last time I checked, we had quite a few hours left.”
The girl ignored him and sighed, “Listen, now that you have learnt the suppression technique, we should make a change in plans.”
“Change? What change?”
The girl then answered, “Now we can use your Mark to take control of the situation. Tomorrow they plan on selling us to a slave trader. They will send someone to collect us, probably Ben, once they do that, you can use your Mark to make him into a Soul Sworn. I know how to perform the ritual. Then we can find a way to escape from there.”
Soul Sworn? Bastian knew that they were a group that nobles always used. Once the idea of Soul Sworn entered his mind, Bastian started having ideas of his own.
As far as he was concerned, even if they escaped the following day with some help, they would most likely be caught very quickly again. Not to mention the girl, Bastian was a very valuable slave.
In addition, Bastian didn’t know when, but he had been branded. A slave brand was a mark that allowed the owner to know of the slave’s location. Due to Sebastian’s noble upbringing, he was well aware of how these worked. The brand was invisible, but Bastian could sense it on his left hand. World Energy fluctuated around the brand, evidence of its presence.
After he had informed the girl that her plan wouldn’t work, they started to argue. Her argument was that, this was their only chance and that escaping from a slave trader would be even more impossible.
Bastian, on the other end, argued that with the abilities of his Mark, he no longer had to worry about that. He just wanted to leave this camp in the safest and most reliable manner possible. To him the best way to do this was to be sold to a noble, who most likely wouldn’t be as fortified as these mercenaries. Making escape much more achievable.
The girl didn’t like this idea, for there was a big chance that herself and Bastian would be sold to different people.
“Don’t worry, I have a plan for that. I am also certain it will be Ben who picks us up tomorrow. If he becomes my Soul Sworn, then that part would be simple to deal with.” Bastian then explained his plan, after she had listened, the girl had to admit, and it was quite impressive. It had a much better chance of success, than what she had in mind!
She did however force Bastian to make an oath to the heavens that if Ben did show, he would make Ben his own Soul Sworn, Bastian agreed without hesitation. After talking through the plan and ironing out the details, the two finally decided to sleep.