You need a villain, if you want to be the hero. That’s what father had said when he’d first introduced his brother. Now, the good man hung pinned to a wooden cross, his body shredded by whips, spikes and bootheels, a crown of thorns gouged into his temple.

The rains came and his wounds opened afresh, running a river of blood down the hill. The Roman guards grew bored, and sloped away in search of shelter, wine and other fruits of the night.

He looked down and saw the foe at his feet, disguised in a farmer’s simple garb.

“Come to gloat?” he asked. “Taunt me now that your plan has succeeded, my body has only hours left.”

“There was no plan brother,” his foe replied. “I have only ever loved you.”

The good man grimaced at the lie. “You persuaded my friends to betray and forsake me, you turned my followers against me,” he insisted, staring down his foe proudly. “You have always put stones in my sandals since we were young. It is who you are.”

His brother shook his head sadly. “I have done nothing. I never did. I never needed to,” he whispered softly.

It was a simple statement, there was no plea for forgiveness left in him. He was sick of being his brother’s whipping boy, having to apologise his entire life, shouldering the burden of other’s sins. No more. The supposed bad man turned and left his kin to martyr himself, accepting his role of scapegoat. For now, forever, for necessity.

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