Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume One

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram


"Once upon a time, to the west of a village, there was a cave. Inside that cave was an ice-like demon who had neither blood nor tears. No one who entered that cave ever returned."

Ishuca enters the demon's cave and gets caught by its hair. Rather than being frightened and pleading for his life, however, he's excited that the demon really exists and starts chatting. The demon points out that the other humans who came before him all wound up being eaten. Ishuca apologizes because he didn't bring any food with him.

Frustrated by Ishuca's lack of fear, the demon explains that he's trying to get a human to cry a tear jewel for him to grant his wish of getting free of the ice imprisoning him. Ishuca tries to think of ways to help him, which just makes the demon more irritated by his lack of self-preservation until he finally puts him down and reveals that his name is Blood. Ishuca dashes out of the cave, and Blood berates himself for being conned...until Ishuca comes back with some berries to feed him.

Blood can't believe how unconcerned Ishuca is for his own welfare, even falling asleep next to a demon. Then he's even more shocked when he himself sleeps in front of the human--he *never* lets his guard down around others that way. The two get to talking, and Ishuca is surprised to hear that the demon has never seen his own blood, because he's never allowed himself to be injured enough to bleed. (That explains the "neither blood nor tears" legend.)

Ishuca puts his arms around Blood and says that it's okay to eat him when he dies. He doesn't have much time left, but he wants to do what he can to make Blood more comfortable. Since he can't melt the ice, he'll use his body heat to keep Blood warm. He's only sorry that he's not afraid of dying, so he can't cry the tear jewel that Blood needs. Then his heart stops and he begins to fall. Blood breaks out of the ice to catch him, cutting himself in the process. Without knowing why, Blood cradles the body and cries, producing the jewel he'd been searching for. The demon with neither blood nor tears finally has both.

Blood uses his tear jewel wish to bring Ishuca back to life, though he's disgusted with himself for helping a human and embarrassed at having cried. Ishuca asks to go with him, claiming that he can't return to his village now that he's undead (he has no pulse). He says that, in exchange for letting him come along, Blood can have his body to eat if he ever needs it. Blood considers it, then agrees, taking Ishuca and kissing him. (Ishuca is mortified, not realizing that "eat my body" might involve such a thing.)

They set off for Wild's house, since he buys jewels. Blood explains that he locates and "mines" jewels, which contain spiritual power. After he uses up their power, he sells the jewels to Wild. Then Wild tells him where more jewels can be found. There's a cache of them in a cave near the house, but they're protected by a holy kekkai and demons can't enter, so he has to think of a different location.

Blood and Ishuca get a room at an inn. At first Ishuca is afraid that Blood has intentions on his body--other than eating--but he manages to convince himself that maybe demons just have a custom of kissing between friends and it's no big deal. He takes the ward off the door of their room so it won't bother Blood, curious that it doesn't affect him even though he's "undead." Blood muses over his reasons for bringing Ishuca back to life. He still doesn't know why he did it, what he expected to get from it, and it's driving him bonkers.

They go back to Wild's for more jewel info, and Ishuca hears from Rapunzel that when humanoid demons "eat" people they actually only drain their life force. Ishuca is traumatized because, as someone who's already dead, he doesn't believe he has any life force--thus Blood couldn't eat him if he wanted to. (He doesn't know it's the power of the tear jewel that makes him a yummy treat.) He thinks he has to do something to make it worth Blood's while to keep him around. Remembering that he could touch the holy ward, he decides to try getting the jewels from the cave that the demons can't enter, proving he has some value.

Meanwhile, Wild is chiding Blood for keeping a useless human around. He urges Blood to leave Ishuca behind, since he'll only be a hindrance. Rapunzel gives them the note Ishuca left, and Blood starts to go get him, but Wild stops him. Wild says that this is exactly what he was talking about. Why should Blood go out of his way for a human who has no power or value? Blood asks himself the same question. He knew all along that Ishuca couldn't offer him anything. He finally realizes that he didn't save Ishuca because he expected something in return, he did it simply because he fell in love.

Wild gets a report that demons are ganging up outside the sealed cave, waiting for Ishuca to come out so they can eat him and take the jewels. Blood dashes off to rescue him. He hacks his way through the assembled demons to get to the cave, fearing that he's too late. He's incredibly relieved to see Ishuca is safe. However, one last demon pops up to get the jewel. Blood tells Ishuca to throw it away, but to Ishuca it's the one thing that will let him stay with Blood and he refuses to part with it. Blood declares that he doesn't care about the jewel or anything, as long as Ishuca is with him. Ishuca drops the stone, and when the demon lets go to catch it, Blood finishes it off.

Ishuca notices that he has a cut on his hand and licks it, saying that he wishes he had some power to offer Blood, such as healing wounds. Lo and behold, the scratch heals right up. He finds that he can even heal old scars. He's excited that he can now be useful to Blood. He enthusiastically agrees that if Blood ever gets injured, he'll lick it and make it better. (He has second thoughts when he sees Blood's smug expression...)

They head back to the inn, and on the way they meet up with Ishuca's friend from the orphanage, Cain. Blood immediately gets jealous of how close they are. He's upset when Ishuca introduces him as a friend--*Cain* is a "friend," he wants more than that--but Ishuca doesn't understand what's bothering him. When Cain hears that Ishuca is tagging along with Blood, who's buying him clothes and food and such (since Blood has all the money from the jewels), he jumps to the conclusion that Ishuca has been...well, bought. He's determined to protect his friend, but when he confronts Blood about it, Blood just throws him out the window. That's when Cain notices the discarded ward and realizes that Blood is a bit more than he appears.

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