A world where human life can be valued with money will never change. It's a circle what's waiting to be snapped at some point but in reality, that won't happen.
The problems do not go away.
They grow and reshape.
People who have enough money to pay for their freedom and lifestyle are on the higher level of the hierarchy.
Others are unfortunate enough to not being able to pay.
It's the breaking point what makes it possible for some to live like gods while others are going to sacrifice more than their mind and body.
In human history, no one can pinpoint the exact time when people started to deprive freedom from others, when the idea of some being inferior than others began to manifest.
And when that wasn't enough to divide people, something else happened to make this problem extended to the point where it's pure luck if your life wasn't going to be a tragedy from the moment you were born.
Eijirou's earliest memories from his parents were filled with love. They never were rich enough to be admired or special but they didn't need that either. Simple lifestyle was all they had known and they didn't feel like anything needs to be changed.
Surely, the lifestyle they had wasn't the best possible. Anyone agrees that with money, many problems would be solved fast and life would be easier.
His father was a simple farmer and so was his grandfather and great-grandfather. They grew wheat for themselves and the extras they got was taken to the nearby village where it was exchanged for other foods or sold to the visiting merchants.
Eijirou always thought that he was going to be next in the line of inheriting their small lands and continue the job as farmer. He'd go to the village and return with a bride and soon they'd have a family, another generation of future farmers.
But life never goes as planned, no matter how much you think about it and try to fulfill it.
Other memories from his early life were full of pain and anguish, mixed emotions and prayers that weren't answered at all. The face of his mother crying uncontrollably when his fate was revealed will haunt him forever.
His hand being hardened to rock hard while his mother cried, begging for every possible god and godlike figure, asking them what they had done to deserve this kind of plague.
This kind of punishment.
The disappointment in his father's eyes while he was staring at him, shocked that his firstborn son was a freak with ability that would stain their family completely.
A gaze that felt like he was trying to end Eijirou's life there at that moment.
For some people, this kind of power was a blessing that helped them move towards the luxurious life and accomplish even more than they originally were going to. Those people who had already been born with the blessings of gods and goddesses, who were favored by society and people.
For other people, it was a curse that will destroy the slightest chances they ever had on this life. For someone like Eijirou, this was a sign of wrath and misery from gods. His destiny has already been decided and there's nothing that will change it.
Despite everything his parents still continued to love him. As much as they could, considering the circumstances and Eijirou's abnormal new ability. It would be very useful in farming but then again, it was like a curse and if anyone finds out about it he would never be able to live a normal life.
Eijirou learned very quickly that this new 'gift' of his was really something what could be compared to diseases. He was different but not in a good way.
At the nearby village someone with special power, 'a quirk', was taken by force and sold to slavery by their family. Their family had no other choice since the pressure from everyone else began to increase to the point where they had to do it even when they didn't want to. A person with quirk in a village like that is an outcast immediately.
First years after discovering Eijirou's quirk their family was very careful with everyone and about everything. They tried to act like nothing had changed and maybe people in the village didn't notice anything.
But Eijirou began to notice changes after his first brother was born.
It became very clear who was the least favored child in the family. It wasn't like he was completely isolated or hated. Being the firstborn probably had something to do with it but he was treated differently.
The atmosphere in their household seemed to tighten every time when one of his siblings reached the age where Eijirou discovered his quirk. But luckily none of them had the same curse as him. His parents were relieved but the person who was most happy about it was Eijirou himself. It meant none of his siblings needed to go through same anguish of everyday life as he did.
No one deserves to live a life like that.
And Eijirou would never wish that the same curse affected anyone else from his family. He may be the unlucky one but he will bear everything on his shoulders if it means no one else needs to be hurt by it.
It was his destiny and he can not complain about it.
"It can't be helped. Our fields aren't as fertile as previous years so no doubt there won't be enough crop."
Eijirou couldn't help but sigh and nod. His father was right, the land wasn't as rich as it had been last years. They had sown everything the same way as always but some of the crop was stunted already. It meant there was going to be hard times with feeding the whole family.
The weather had been hotter than usual and ground was getting dried up more and more every passing day. It was getting harder to carry water to the field and water everything properly. Land that had been so rich and given them plentiful of crop was now reminding the hot deserts that burn your feet if you made the mistake of forgetting your sandals.
Changes were visible everywhere. There's always been grass here and there around their small piece of land but now it was really looking like the valley of death. Spots of brown grass were signs of it being dead and it worried them a lot.
Dead grass wasn't good for animals either, lacking the energy and nutrients needed for healthy diet.
It wasn't only their small piece of land that was having problems, the whole little village was in trouble with crops and everyone was already preparing for the upcoming problems. If it turns out to get out of hand and grow into some form of famine, there's no other choice than buy food from one of the bigger cities on the Nile.
But buying food was expensive for them and they didn't have that much money for that. Also the big cities were far away, it would take them days for going there, buying the food needed and then return.
In other hand it would be an opportunity to see how bigger cities work though. Eijirou had only heard a thing or two about them but never even imagined visiting any of them. They never really had a reason to go there.
The subject was rather interesting but at the same time Eijirou preferred the simple lifestyle they have here.
"At the times like these I really wish that we owned a horse or two. Selling them would earn enough money to get through a year like this." Eijirou's words made his father laugh quietly but he probably wished for the same thing.
Selling a couple horses would make sure that they were able to feed their family properly when tough times hit at them. But sadly horses were too expensive for them to even think of owning.
At least it didn't change the fact that they were gorgeous animals. Eijirou had had the pleasure to see them couple times during visits in the village and every time he couldn't help but admire them.
Just something about their eye-catching appearance and biddable personality was different. Donkeys were good at working but their stubborn attitude was really awful sometimes. Whereas every horse Eijirou ever had seen was obediently doing what they were told to do.
Oh how he really wished for a chance of getting to know those animals more. Even petting one properly would be enough for his curiosity, probably making him admire them even more for the rest of his life.
Too bad only people with money and more free time were able to own them.
"What if next year we dig even deeper in hopes for better crop? I mean, I can do it so we don't need extra equipment", Eijirou suggested while he lifted his other hand and hardened it for a moment.
But the way his father glanced at him with furrowed eyebrows told him more than thousands words.
Eijirou knew how much his father hated his quirk. Maybe hate was wrong word to describe his feelings, he was probably more ashamed of it. Ashamed that his family was stained with something so different and strange.
"Stop it, Eijirou. It would be bad luck for us." His father's voice was harsher and that tone alone made Eijirou lower his head little bit, agreeing that indeed it was a stupid idea. There was always a chance that someone found out about his quirk and the whole family would get in trouble after that.
"I'm sorry, father. I won't bring that up again." Eijirou knew he had made a mistake with that suggestion. Of course using quirk would be bad idea but he couldn't think anything else what would help them. With his hardening ability, he probably could do something more to help the crop grow.
It was frustrating because there were other things too what he could do to provide help enough.
And he really wanted to help more. He wanted to make up for the shame he brought with his odd ability.
"Don't worry. We'll manage, somehow. We always do." The words felt like they were empty, lacking the honest hope for better tomorrow but Eijirou decided to ignore it. His father was right, they are going to pull through this somehow. It's better to take extra preparations now before it's too late.
"Let's hope for the best." Eijirou smiled, no need to give up hope yet. He hoped his smile had power enough to change the heavy atmosphere and bring little bit of happiness around them.
However, behind his smile was hidden uneasiness and anxiety. Everything can turn ugly in a blink of an eye and Eijirou would hate to see everyone struggling with hunger.
Lately his mother hadn't been feeling well and taking care of the chores has become harder for her. It's hard to acknowledge the fact that she's gotten weaker over the years and bad crop year isn't going to help her get back healthy.
Eijirou hated how his mother would smile and say that she's feeling a lot better already and that soon enough she would be able to do everything with the same passion as always.
It was a lie and all of them knew it. No one just wanted to accept the reality, instead turning their backs to it and pretend that everything's going to return back to normal eventually. Like things used to be earlier.
That night Eijirou found himself wide awake while his siblings were fast asleep already. The quiet breathing coming from right next to him was soothing but he couldn't fall asleep. His head was full of different thoughts, he wanted to find a solution to the situation before it blows up completely.
Slightly cold breeze blew through the room but it didn't bother him that much. It was refreshing after a hot day like always.
It wasn't unusual for him to stay up like this. Sometimes his head was so full of different thoughts that it felt like it's going to explode at any given moment. Many times he ended up with headache after thinking so hard but he always ignored it.
Quiet whispers caught Eijirou's attention and he closed his eyes to focus more on hearing what his parents were talking. They always talked at the end of the day when everyone else were sleeping and Eijirou had heard a lot of things over the years. He knew exactly what was going on at the time and what his parents were worried about.
With this little habit of his, he had learned about his mother's condition. The reality of it, of course his parents never told how things really were to them during the day.
They were good at keeping their voices quiet but Eijirou had gotten used to eavesdropping them so he knew that when they thought all of the kids were sleeping, they'd talk more about the serious things.
And it was exactly like that this time too.
"It's looking bad. One third of the crop is stunted already and without a miracle this harvest will be sad to look at."
"Indeed. It looks like no one will have rich and plentiful harvest this time. At this rate food won't be enough for all of us."
Eijirou felt like he wanted to hide under his dark bangs. So they really were going to starve and minimize their food portions yet again. It wasn't the first time but it always sucks. Especially since the youngest siblings didn't always catch up with the reason why they were given lesser food than last time.
"We should sell couple of the animals. Maybe a donkey, we still need the ox to plow the yields."
"But will it be enough money to buy the missing food?"
"I'm not sure. We need to do some preparations though or else everything will hit us hard. I will try to find out if we can get enough money from selling the donkey and then we can think more about this."
Eijirou kept his eyes closed and thought every word carefully. Selling donkey wasn't bad idea at all but like his mother doubted, how much money can they earn by doing so? Is it enough to feed them all?
He wanted to believe in positive way of thinking but the seriousness of this complicated situation wore off all of the good ideas and thoughts.
"Do you think we're being punished?"
His mother's tone of voice was enough for Eijirou to know what she meant by that.
"I hope not. It's unfortunate thing that this is happening now but I don't think we're being punished because of him. That would have happened a lot earlier if that's the case."
Eijirou bit his lip hard enough to make it bleed little bit. It always hurt when his parents talked like that. He knew a lot about what they really thought of him, how they hated his quirk and how he would always be an outcast no matter where he goes.
It hurts a lot to hear something like that.
Especially since it's true.
They ended up selling one of the donkeys but that didn't solve any of their problems in the end.
The money Kirishima family got from the trade wasn't enough at all to feed their whole family. It was disappointing since selling the donkey had been the biggest attempt to gather up some money for the upcoming food shortage.
Eijirou noticed immediately the despair floating around their home. They couldn't afford for selling another donkey, they needed it as well as they needed their ox.
Plowing the ground was possible with manpower alone but using ox helped it a lot and made everything faster.
The atmosphere was getting so thick that it was almost possible to cut it with knife. The visible anguish and despair ate his mind little by little. It felt like it was getting hard to even put a single smile on the face. Why even bother when there really wasn't anything to smile for?
Eijirou never ever had seen his parents fight that much but during the nights they began to get into arguments. The subjects of them were changing a lot but most common theme was the question about what they should do now, how they'll manage to feed everyone and is there anything else what could fix this situation.
When they started having arguments during day time too, Eijirou always took his younger siblings out of the house. He didn't want any of them to get in the way and they didn't need to hear all of those worries. Obviously they already knew how bad everything was turning to be but Eijirou didn't want to see how smiles from their faces would eventually fade away if they sat there and listened all of those problems.
Sometimes he took them down to the nearby small river to catch some fish. Then other times they went to check the fields and do some chores. All they really could do at the moment was ease off the workload their parents had.
Eijirou was thankful that he was able to keep straight face and calm attitude when he spent extra time with his siblings. They were curious enough to drown him with different questions about the current situation but Eijirou's answers were well thought out and close to truth, but then again maybe they were little bit sugar coated as well.
As the days went by Eijirou began to notice that something was changing. The arguments between his parents were calming down. That was a good sign but then again something had definitely changed and he didn't know what.
He hoped for the best because that was all he could do at that moment. He kept smiling even during the times when he really wanted to cry instead. When he felt like there is no end for this misfortune.
Everything was starting to return back to normal and Eijirou was glad of it. They will get through hard times like always.
Eijirou decided that he will keep smiling no matter how hard it would be. He hoped that at least the smile would share little bit of happiness to everyone around him.
"Eijirou, wake up."
A silent whisper near his ear woke him up and startled him too. With drowsy gaze Eijirou found out it was his father who had whispered in his ear and woken him up.
"C'mon Eijirou. Get up, we have things to do." He felt his father's hand stroke his hair couple of times which was unusual thing for him. His father never really showed that much of intimacy but it didn't bother him at all. In fact, it was a nice change.
"What things?" Eijirou asked and yawned soon after. He was still tired and wanted to go back to sleep but his father's behavior was different and at the same time interesting. He wanted to know what he was up to and why they needed to do some things in the middle of night.
"I'll explain it eventually. Eat up little bit, I'll get the donkey ready."
Eijirou couldn't ask anything, his father left before he was able to open his mouth again. His curiosity was getting the better of him already. He glanced around before getting up, his siblings were still fast asleep and it seemed that only he and his father were up at this time.
Even his mother was still asleep which made him little bit suspicious about what was going on. But his kind personality prevented him from being so obvious about this little suspicious feeling. He didn't want to doubt too much let alone disrespect his father. That's one of the last things Eijirou wanted to do.
He hurriedly ate the small piece of bread what was left for him before he got out of their little house. The night weather was surprisingly cold and Eijirou was shivering little bit while he watched his father who was already waiting him with the donkey.
"Forgive me father but I don't understand what we're about to do. Could you explain something?" Eijirou asked with honestly confused expression on his face.
His father sighed quietly and walked next to him, wrapping a blanket around his shoulders. "It's okay Eijirou. Don't worry about it, okay? Just get on and let's go." He couldn't tell much from the expression showing on his father's face but Eijirou could sense that something strange was going on. This behavior and situation was just wrong. What would they have to do in the middle of the night?
But being the obedient sweetheart like he always was, Eijirou didn't ask more about this subject. He got on the donkey's back just like his father told him to and stayed silent.
Moonlight shined their path as the familiar surroundings were left behind. Eijirou couldn't help but every now and then glance back and watch as the place he had always called home was slowly disappearing from the view.
When he couldn't see it anymore at all, he got ominous feeling.
A feeling like this is the last time he sees his home. Some kind of heavy feeling began to press him down. He was still confused but now it was mixed with some kind of bad feeling and fear.
Neither Eijirou nor his father changed words for a long time. His father was focused on leading the donkey and clearly thinking something and he didn't want to be interrupted at all. Eijirou's eyes fell on the neck of the animal under him and he patted the gray fur of his steed, it was little bit relaxing but he wasn't relaxed at all.
Everything felt like eternity now. As the hours passed and night went on Eijirou started to notice how the sun had began to rise already. He had no idea how long they had been on the road already but he could feel how the tension between them began to tighten. His stomach was in knots and his head was full of different thoughts.
It was bright already when they finally stopped. Eijirou curiously glanced around but he couldn't pinpoint their exact location. Far away from home, that was all he knew.
What he could say for sure was the fact that they were close to the river, presumably the Nile since he was able to see a boat far away.
As Eijirou got down two obnoxious looking men approached them. They were muscular enough but at the same time the look on their faces sent shivers down his spine. Those men's attitudes were screaming for trouble and he was surprised as why it seemed like his father had something to do with them. Or that he wanted to speak with them.
Eijirou had seen only once such equally disgusting looking people and it was that time when that one family from the village sold their daughter to the slave merchants who were going to take her to the slave market.
And then the realization hit him like a flash from a clear sky.
"So you're the head of the Kirishima family? We heard you wanted to meet us." The taller man spoke with rough voice, letting a disturbing grin rest on his face. Eijirou had never really met people he considered evil but that man gave him all the red flags with only the way his gaze was like it tried to pierce through everyone and everything.
His father nodded and glanced Eijirou before he turned his gaze back to the men in front of them.
"I heard you're looking for the people with... abnormal abilities."
Eijirou was sure all colors were draining from his face, his stomach dropping at the same time as those words were on the air.
"Father, what are you doing?" Eijirou asked, clearly distressed of this situation but his father just gave him dirty look. Like he was telling him to shut up without using any words.
"Oh I see. Do not worry my friend. It's not uncommon to sweep up the cursed ones out of your life. That's how it works. You don't want to stain the family name, am I right?" the man continued with wider grin and Eijirou was honestly disgusted by everything happening now.
"So, what is his quirk? That will determine his value."
At that point Eijirou was praying in his mind that this was just a dream and he would wake up soon but the reality of this situation felt like crushing him down. Because no matter how he wished things to be different, this was in fact the one and only reality. And this was really happening.
"He can harden any part of his body rock hard and sharp."
"Oh really? That does sound pretty valuable to me. But I need to see it before I can pay you." The man nodded and the other man beside him grinned too.
Eijirou felt his hand on his throat suddenly and before he knew it, he was thrown to the sandy ground by the other man while he was gasping for air. That man's grip had been so tight and everything happened so fast that he couldn't even prepare himself for something like that.
He couldn't stop the tears that were welling up in his eyes already. He tried to make an eye contact with his father, tried to beg him to stop this because it doesn't really have to end this way. But his father ignored his cries and made sure he didn't let their eyes meet.
"The more you resist, the more this will hurt." The shorter bald man had grabbed a whip and was unfolding it, waiting if Eijirou voluntarily showed his quirk. But when he didn't do that, the whip rose above and then landed against his back.
The sharp slap of the whip rang in his ears and the pain he never had felt before was immediately spreading through his back. It felt like his whole skin was gone from that spot but in reality the whip hadn't even broken his skin yet.
Shock from the situation prevented him from screaming during the first whip but when another one was landed on his skin, Eijirou made a sound that he never had imagined was possible for him. A scream that didn't even sound human at all. It reminded him more of an animal that was about to be slaughtered brutally.
Tears escaped from his eyes and ran down his cheeks as he felt like his whole world was crumbling right in front of his eyes. Eijirou was in pain but it wasn't just because he was getting whipped. It was the realization that his father wasn't going to do anything to stop this torture.
It was the fact that his father had thought of this and decided it's the best thing to do.
In all honesty Eijirou understood him very well, even if he didn't want to accept it. He was an outcast. He was cursed with a quirk what would bring them bad luck and stain their family name if anyone found out about it.
But it still hurt because he was betrayed by his family. By the person who was supposed to make sure nothing like this ever happens to him.
"What a stubborn one. You better show your quirk or else you're going to be beaten to death."
He didn't even listen to what the merchants were saying to him. Eijirou was focusing on resisting the need to harden his back. If he showed his quirk, he would be taken away and sold at the slave market. Who knows what would happen to him after that.
Even death sounded better option than that.
"Father please! I will be a good son, I will do everything you want! I will hide from everyone else, just don't sell me!" Eijirou was in tears and sobbing louder and harder than he ever had done. He was still trying to make an eye contact with his father, still wanting to hold on the single spark of hope that his father would change his mind and stop this torture.
But when he finally made an eye contact with Eijirou, the eyes what he had known his whole life were like stranger's.
"I know it, damn it! Your power makes your skin hard like a rock but deep inside your core is soft and sweet. But it doesn't change anything!" Eijirou winced at the heartlessness of his father's voice. Even the slave merchants were surprised even though they probably had seen similar scenarios many times earlier.
"But you know what? My Eijirou died years ago. He died at the exact moment when that disgusting cursed power of yours manifested."
Eijirou's world was crumbling faster than ever in front of him. His father's words rang in his ears and for a moment everything just felt numb. Like the whole world had stopped for a moment.
Everything felt like it was happening on slow-motion. Eijirou heard how the whip was raised again and was ready to come down on his back again.
He felt how the whip hit him again, but this time it didn't hurt at all. He was still sobbing but at the same time he was relieved that he wasn't hurt again by the leather whip.
Eijirou heard how the slave merchants gasped quietly with amazement. And he knew why.
The secret what he had always so carefully kept was revealed now completely. His back was hardened and if anyone tried to whip him again, it would do nothing to him. At least it wouldn't bring him any pain.
"Well, Mr. Kirishima. It looks like we have a price to negotiate." The taller man grinned, clearly satisfied that Eijirou really had a quirk like it was told. The whip was put away and the shorter man began to tie rope around Eijirou's hands and then pulled him up from the ground.
Eijirou was sure he was in some kind of haze at the moment. Nothing felt real and he was still denying that any of his was happening.
While the other merchant began to talk about the price of Eijirou, the other man was already leading him to walk away.
Eijirou followed like a beaten animal and that probably was more accurate than anything else right now. He felt like one at the moment. He could hear his father's voice but slowly it started to quiet down.
With tears still blurring his vision, Eijirou turned his head and looked behind his shoulder to see his father for the last time.
He was sold to slavery by his family at the age of fifteen.
Like a young child he tried to make the last eye contact with his father but he did not pay any attention to him anymore. It hurt, maybe even more than the whip had hurt him.
But at that moment Eijirou really understood how cruel this world is. How this was his fate and there's no escape from it.
He really understood it finally.
All men are not created equal.