Now we are back to our current time. The girl was staring defensively at Bastian and Ben, she wasn’t sure what they were up to.
Bastian: “Here is what I propose: I make an oath to get you and I out of slavery to the best of my ability, and you make an oath to protect my life until I reach my Kingdom safely and take back my throne. Both of us will swear oaths to never reveal each other’s secrets, deal?”
This was definitely not what she was expecting. She was not only surprised that the boy was a King, he also proposed something that benefited both parties, even though he had the advantage.
Wait, protect? How does he know I can fight?
Bastian: “If you’re wondering how I know you can fight, it’s your shackles! I only had my legs shackled, yet you had both your arms and legs shackled. Not to mention, I can also tell that your shackles are enchanted. I’m a noble, so I’m very familiar with enchanted objects.”
The girl was impressed, his observations were spot on. She was a very strong cultivator, especially for someone her age, in addition, she had a particular set of skills which made her very dangerous. Even the pole she was tied to wasn’t normal, it was made out of magically reinforced wood, and constantly sucked vitality out of her body, keeping her weak.
That’s when Ben Interjected. “That’s right master, she is a member of the Inkume tribe!”
The Inkume tribe is believed to have existed for thousands of years, it is rumoured that in the past they were a very powerful empire that had met its end after many other empires united against it, fearing its might.
Now it was only a very large tribe, with many villages hidden throughout the Eastern Islands. Although they are only a tribe, Inkume kinsmen are still feared throughout the continent, for they are without a doubt the best assassins on the continent.
Their children are trained in the arts of killing and torture from a young age, their knowledge of the human body was unmatched. Legend has it that even a simple handshake from a member of the Inkume tribe can kill you, and after you die, no magic, not even a doctor of the highest calibre, would be able to determine the cause of death.
They were feared through every land. To get their children to behave, some parents would even tell stories, like; ‘if you don’t behave the Inkume will come for you at night!’ This name was without a doubt very fearsome.
Every person on the continent was always told to breathe deeply once you have been seen by an Inkume. Running away from one was impossible, and only the strongest of cultivators could deal with them, so if you’re targeted by one, you are told to enjoy your last breath in this life…
Inkume, very interesting. What are the odds?
Sebastian Tirius had also heard about these infamous assassins, in fact, you could say he was very knowledgeable. Every noble child is educated on various important matters about the continent, the Inkume being one of them, especially since they usually only target nobles, it is not known why, but since this is so, nobles make sure to educate their children from young.
Bastian looked at the girl in curiously, as if this were the first time he had laid eyes on her. Since Ben was a Soul Sworn, it was impossible for him to lie to Bastian, so there was no doubt as to what she was.
The Inkume were extremely secretive, they were well known for lurking in the shadows at night. Even capturing the corpse of one was very difficult. Yet here she was.
Ben added on, “Master, no one else knows this but me.”
“Hhm?” Bastian hummed.
Noticing he had his Master’s attention, Ben continued, “I found her in a low class brothel, she was poisoned and unconscious, and about to become a permanent slave there.
Thankfully, I had encountered the Inkume before, so I knew how to discern them. They all cultivate a special type of qi, once you experience as much as I have, it you will never forget it, it is unique, so when I realised that she had that qi, I knew what she was. I bought her, and brought her here a few days ago. I told the Captain that she was just a slave who had been taught cultivation, such a young cultivation slave is quite valuable, so the Captain agreed. I planned to cut a special deal with the slave dealer after telling him what she really was.”
This was quite impressive. Bastian saw that not only had the Captain not known, but the girl also hadn’t known that Ben knew her true identity. She had however been wondering why he had gone to such extremes in binding her. Even if she was a cultivator she was after all only a little girl.
“I thought the Inkume were trained to be immune to most poisons, and that only the deadliest of poisons can work on them. Why is it that she is still alive?” Bastian couldn’t help but ask Ben. Her people were infamous for their immunity to poisons and torture.
“I’m not sure myself! After I chained her up she regained consciousness, I didn’t do anything.” Ben himself didn’t know what had happened. Both man and boy looked at her, curiosity spilling out of their gazes.
The girl pouted and looked away. Something told Bastian, that even if he wanted to know, as long as she wasn’t willing, he would get nothing out of her.
“Anyway, if she wants to tell us, she will. Right now I need to know if you accept my deal.” As far as Bastian was concerned, her affairs paled in value compared to their current predicament.
“As long as you tell your thing to walk away, I will happily discuss with you.” The girl looked at Ben with disdain. Ben was angry, but Bastian agreed.
As soon as Ben was far enough away, the girl started her inquisition. She wanted to know how Bastian had figured out that not only was she a Custodian, but how he had figured out her House rule?
Bastian: “It’s quite simple, although I haven’t been a Mark Bearer that long, I do know that once you become a Custodian you lose some abilities. Since you offered to teach me how to unleash my Mark, you ought to at least have been a Mark Bearer or have been in close proximity to one yourself. If you were a Mark Bearer yourself, you would not need to teach me. This pointed to you either being a Custodian, a Soul Sworn or someone who just happened to know a lot about Mark Bearers. I saw that when you mentioned the phrase Soul Sworn, your face showed signs of contempt. Even after Ben became mine, you still showed these signs whenever you looked at him. Soul Sworn wouldn’t despise their own kind, in fact they take pride in their status. This meant that you couldn’t be one yourself, this left only two possibilities.”
The girl took in a breath of cold air. This thinking, these deductions, this perception. These were not things a boy should be capable of.
“That still leaves the other two options, not to mention there are plenty of other ways to know information about Mark Bearers. What made you think I was a Custodian? What brought you to my House rule?” The girl was still very curious, many of her questions were still unanswered.
“There are plenty of other ways, but how many apply to a little girl? Besides, when you saw my Mark, you had a brief moment of recollection. I could clearly see that you had seen one before. Also when I brought the Mark before Ben, its effect when I showed him, differed from yours. Ben a full grown adult, was suppressed far worse than a little girl, if you weren’t a custodian then how would that be possible?”
The girl was very impressed, never had she been impressed by someone her own age, and to such an extent.
Girl: “That’s just conjecture!”
Bastian: “Maybe, but I’m very good at reading faces. I could tell last night that you were desperate to escape, so desperate in fact, that you were willing to run away, even though you would most likely have been caught.
Last night, when I refused your plan, we argued for quite some time. Yet not once did you propose to turn Ben into your own Soul Sworn. There could only be three explanations for this: either you can no longer do so, or you have made an oath against such a thing, or it is against your house rules. I doubt a girl as young as you has over used her soul, not to mention I saw the disdain you have for them so I doubt you would even have one. This means only the oath and the Custodian theory are left. Since it was fifty-fifty I took a chance and asked you.”
In her entire life, this girl had never heard of someone getting so much information, given so little. The boy actually looked like a fool, yet his mind was very sharp. This meant there was more to him than meets the eye.
“Enetty, my name is Enetty.” Bastian could see the look of defeat on her face, he had even been told her name. If an Inkume told you their name, it meant they thought you an equal, Bastian was pleased by this.
“Sebastian, my name is Sebastian.” After exchanging names, both felt that the atmosphere between them was improved.
“When we are around other people you have to call me something else.” Bastian was already expecting this so he replied quickly. “V, I’m going to call you V.”
“Oh, that name has significance with you?”
“You could say that. Oh, by the way, do you know what Inkume means?”
“I’m not sure? The last of those who knew the meaning died centuries ago!”
“Well, I know of a language where that word has a meaning.”
V was rather doubtful, how could a sheltered noble like him know something about her own tribe? Something that her own ancestors didn’t even know, but she decided to humour him anyway. “Well your Highness, please enlighten your humble body-guard. What does the name of my very ancient clan mean?”
Bastian grinned at the girl’s sarcastic tone. He stretched his arms and relaxed like he had no worry in the world.