A bed of Shimeji mushrooms was a perfect place to rest at the end of the day. The tops rolled like clouds across the ground, a nap here could melt anybody’s troubles away. But here I came, came running, and I squeezed down between the stalks before I let the tears stream down my face.

“My debt is repaid, my debt is repaid,” I whimpered over and over as I watched the invisible mark sink deeper into my skin, but not yet into my soul. I ground my head into the hardened mushroom stalk, fighting back the bitterness welling up inside me.

I accept your misdeeds as my own… but why did you have to choose me over your kin?

Now I have repaid my debt, and all I had to do was give up my family to do it. I blinked my eyes and looked again at my hand; where his sin had buried deeper into my flesh. This bitterness was new, it did not exist in the pure.

I hated him for it, how could he choose my life over a child’s. I hated me, how could I turn my back on a dying race, my race, now doomed.

And not even for my own sin.

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