LOVE AND DEATH AMONG THE MOLLUSCS
by Tari Gwaemir
"It crawls into open shells of clams and oysters, slips beneath the mantle into the beating heart. The mollusc closes its shell, shutting out the passing seawater, and suffocates slowly until it dies."
"Marvelous," Adashino murmured as he bent in closer to examine the specimen with his lens. "This open shell still contains the mushi?"
"At the moment of death, the muscles relax, and the shell opens. The mushi floats away again into the seawater. But you will see the unusual patterns it left inscribed on the interior."
"It seems needlessly cruel," Adashino remarked, tracing the iridescent surface marked with swirling lines.
"Is it? As the shell opens, the offspring hatch and swim into the ocean with the mushi. For every clam or oyster that dies, ten thousand more are brought into existence." Ginko leaned back and gave a lazy grin. "So how much will you give me for the shell?"
"Not less than seventy."
"Fifty-five and a story that you might find to be of interest." Adashino smirked and tucked the shell into his sleeve.
Ginko shook his head ruefully. "Done."