Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume Ten

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram

Needless to say, Wild is shocked when the pair shows up on his doorstep (especially since he was just getting into the bath). Blood is about to ask to borrow some clothes when he sees for an instant the words of a contract completely binding Wild's body. (Wild-"What are you staring at? Etchi.") Attempting to find Blood and Ishuca before Amashi does, Sergi stumbles upon the two assistants Amashi had ditched and hears what had happened the previous night.

When Ishuca wakes up, Blood tells him where they are and holds up the house key he had dropped. Ishuca says it's a spare, he has the original on a string around his neck. Over breakfast, Ishuca happily invites Rapunzel to come visit his place sometime, which makes Wild look a bit sad. Later, Ishuca asks Blood what he's so deep in thought about, and it turns out to be the spare key. He doesn't understand the concept--one is enough to open the door. Ishuca explains that most people have several, particularly to give to someone they like as a way of saying, "You're welcome in my home anytime." Blood responds that, since Ishuca only needs one for himself, then he wants the spare. Pleased, Ishuca hands it over, saying it's like a promise that they'll both always call the same place "home."

As he wonders how long Wild and Rapunzel have been together, Ishuca thinks about how his own hair and nails are still growing, even though he's undead. He's uncertain what that implies about his aging process, causing him to ask himself how long he and Blood will be able to be together with their respective life spans. He prays that they can be together forever like Wild and Rapunzel, or that even if they become separated, their "home" can be the same.

Rapunzel wakes up in the middle of the night to get a drink, then suddenly notices something in the mirror. Wild goes outside for a smoke in time to spot Rapunzel burst out of the house, terrified, and start running away. Desperately, Wild gives chase, capturing Rapunzel just as the contract on his body begins to react. He apologizes sadly, saying that going any farther is impossible. Rapunzel starts crying, thinking, "Ah, that was it. I couldn't leave. What do I do? I have to get away from here."

Ishuca notices that Rapunzel seems gloomy the next day. Rapunzel asks Blood to be taken away from the house, but then says to forget it. Overhearing, Wild is heartbroken, musing that he can no longer ask if Rapunzel is lonely because it's too obvious, and he can't apologize any more than he already has. He talks to Blood and Ishuca about where they're headed, and Ishuca mentions that they can visit his friend Cain. Wild privately thinks that he's glad he's lived so long, he's had a lot of practice controlling the face he shows to others and can pretend nothing's wrong. That night he sends another message, silently telling Blood, "You're still young. Let your little bird go before you live to regret it."

In the next town, Blood buys clothes for them in an attempt to make them inconspicuous, but it's no use--he stands out no matter what. He doesn't want to go to Cain's place, but Ishuca insists, so he spends the visit shooting Cain evil glares. Cain tells them that two separate priests came by asking about them. They recognize one as Sergi, but they figure the two men who came to Ishuca's house must have been with the other priest since they hadn't known about Blood.

At the temple, the four head priests are introduced--Chess (East), Meal (South), Raugul (North--Sergi's grandfather), and Bastie (West--Amashi's grandfather). They argue about how to fix the kekkai in the north, the first two wanting to use the East Leader to do it out of convenience, but Raugul protesting that it's a bad idea, and Bastie thinking the demon is more useful in other ways. Raugul points out that they made a contract with the East Leader not to seal him as a living sacrifice, and though the others don't believe a contract with a demon is worth honoring, he asks which should people place more faith in--a demon's contract that he stakes his life on, or a priest's word?

After the meeting, Bastie ponders the issue of Ishuca. He knows the boy was able to pass through the kekkai guarding the jewel cave and that's why he sent Amashi to fetch him, to use his power. He returns to his room and receives a message bird telling him about Cain. Sergi comes back to the temple, stewing over the whole Amashi mess, only to have his grandfather ask him to see if he can find out what Amashi has been up to recently. Startled, he blurts out, "Isn't he searching for Ishuca on the temple's behalf?"

A pair of priests stops at Cain's house to inquire about Ishuca, but he denies having seen them. Cain is surprised by Ishuca's frightened response to their arrival. Then Cain's new wife bursts in. Ishuca tells her he's sorry for not getting her a wedding present, so Blood whips out a jewel the same color as her eyes for her. (Thumbs up from Ishuca, though Cain isn't as enthusiastic...) Seeing the married couple with their happy, normal life makes Ishuca feel a little down about his own situation.

Wild tells Rapunzel he's going to be busy, if it wouldn't be too much trouble to eat and sleep alone for a while, and shuts himself up in his study. He's obsessed with the fact that history is repeating itself. Blood comes in and asks if he can leave Ishuca there for the time being. Wild promptly agrees.

Sergi spills the beans about Blood and Ishuca to his grandfather. Blood knows there's something up between Wild and Rapunzel, but neither one will reveal anything. Wild makes Blood a drink and they chat about future plans, Blood commenting on how odd it is that the priests always seem to know where they're headed. Wild asks why they keep coming back to him, and Blood replies it's because he's the one they trust most. He plops into bed and falls asleep, Wild in complete disbelief.

Ishuca is disappointed when Blood takes off before he wakes up. He knows they'll only be apart a couple of days, he shouldn't be feeling lonely over it. Lost in thought, he notices that it's the first time he's ever seen Rapunzel without a braid--Wild is usually the one who braids Rapunzel's hair, and he won't even do that. As Rapunzel fears he has no time left, Wild sends off one last message bird.

After puzzling over the clues, Blood goes to the temple to ask for Sergi. (He can't go inside, so he tells the boy who takes his request that he's from the red light district--he can't enter without purification--to allay suspicions that he's a demon. This causes Sergi a great deal of embarrassment.) Wild sees that Ishuca is feeling lonely and warns him that lying always comes back to haunt you, especially if you're lying to yourself. He also reinforces Ishuca's worries over not knowing how long he'll live.

Sergi and Blood have a talk about recent events, filling each other in on the pieces they're missing. Amashi himself is gathering every scrap of information he can about Ishuca and Blood, even visiting the cave where they met. Sergi finally mentions that the sword from the Toei trap was made by the East Leader, the Eastern Tower's Bearer of Darkness, who had entered into a contract with the priests who captured him during the Demon Hunt in exchange for his own safety.

Meanwhile, Wild sends Ishuca off to meet Blood coming back from his trip. He tells Ishuca to wait at a certain bridge along the route where they'll most easily encounter one another. But Blood's not the only one who will be heading for that bridge.

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