My spears are shining antlers,
Horns of Freedom, knowing no fear
On my back, my child,
Lower these horns, I shall, to shield its frail life…
── Eggs of the <Shining Leaf> ──
A boy came rushing into the room, crying out pitifully. A man in the prime of his life places a book, which he had just begun to read, down on the table.
“What’s wrong?” He asked
The boy scrunched up his face and, breathing heavily, he said, “The <Shining Leaf> looks like it’s dead.”
The man pushed back the chair and stood up, heading to the room where he was raising the <Shining Leaf>, together with the boy.
A water tank took up most of the room, illuminated by the bright sun shining through a huge window that had been thrown open to look into the courtyard. Green water weed swayed slowly in limpid water.
Under the water weed drifted something resembling dead gray leaves.
Seeing the water tank, the boy looked up to his grandfather, his lips quivering, “Even though I looked after it so seriously. I replaced the water just like you told me, Grandfather…”
The grandfather placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder.
“Calm down. It’s not your fault.”
“Calm down and look carefully. Look, don’t you see something in the water weed?”
The boy knitted his brows, pressing his forehead against the tank, and staring intently into the water weed.
Countless tiny grains were attached to the weeds. The boy looked up to his grandfather, staring in wonder, “Grandfather, are those eggs?”
His grandfather nodded, “Yes, those are eggs.” He continued, not taking his eyes off the tank, “Once the <Shining Leaf> produces eggs, they die shortly afterwards. All at once. Without exception.”
The boy’s eyes dimmed suddenly, “…They die without raising their children?”
His grandfather nodded once more. “They’re not the only beings who can survive without help from their parents. There is a surprisingly large number of creatures like that out there.”
Thinking it over, the boy stared into the tank.
“But, why did the <Shining Leaf> die? Dying right after producing eggs is weird. Did the eggs kill it?”
His grandfather shook his head, “That’s not it.”
Watching the dead leaves float around, he said, “There was a seed of illness inside them.”
“The <Shining Leaf> lives with a seed of illness dormant within them.”
His grandfather squeezed the boy’s skinny shoulder.
“All living beings have seeds of illness in their bodies. They can live as long as they continue fighting against those seeds, but if they lose, they die,” said his grandfather with a sigh, adding, “It’s the same for everything.”