Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume Fourteen

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram

Ishuca works at teaching the baby kappa to say their names, and though it doesn't go very well, the pronunciation of Blood's name as "Rat" affords the others with some amusement--particularly when Wild embellishes it to create "Love-love Rat." The group has finally reached a town where they can rejoin the road and cross the river. Blood sulks that Ishuca is spoiling the kid too much, which prompts Rapunzel to remark that he's jealous of "Mommy's" attention.

Wild and Blood discuss the rumor of the massacre at the temple, trying to puzzle out what Kauzel is up to. When they turn their efforts toward keeping the kappa from waking Ishuca, Wild wonders if all demon babies look so much like dolls. He doesn't know what normal children are like, since despite his past experience, he considers Rapunzel to have been extra-special and beyond compare.

The priests have their hands full calming people's fears and preventing rumors of a demon penetrating the temple from spreading. They claim the deaths were due to an illness to explain why they can't release the bodies to their families or let anyone enter the temple. Amashi thinks it's better to tell the truth, but he's compelled to follow Chess' orders. He feels stifled by the endless meetings that aren't leading to any action. He contemplates having branding Sergi, repeating to himself that he had done nothing wrong in carrying out that order.

Some children at the temple who admired Sergi approach a friend of his to ask if the rumors are true. The friend concocts a plan using their help to drug Sergi's guards and get him out of prison. They're certain that, even if he is standing up for a demon, he's a good person and they trust his judgment.

Wild and Rapunzel split with the others to return to their tower, Ishuca swearing they'll come visit someday. At the temple, Sergi bursts into the priests' council room and splashes a jar of water on everyone, then jumps out the window and escapes. Though the holy water has no effect on the regular priests, it burns Chess--and Amashi. After getting free of the temple, Sergi decides to head north to Toei to warn Blood of the danger.

Leo greets Sheece as a messenger of the North Leader. Sheece hates both humans and other demons, caring only about his dear "children," and wants nothing to do with Blood. Leo reports that the North Leader has picked up one of his children as a hostage, wishing to exchange it for the jewel giving Sheece his power. Sheece is able to see Kauzel's arm inside the boy, however, and has one of the water demons attack him.

Amashi ponders what getting burned by the holy water means, insisting to himself that he's human. Everyone is thrown into a panic at the thought that what Sergi had said might be true. Amashi maintains that Sergi somehow manipulated things to appear that way, as one would expect from a demon's ally. He talks the currently highest-ranking priest into letting him manage affairs, a responsibility handed over quite willingly by the overwhelmed man.

Blood and Ishuca journey on to the next town, where the folk are upset that their water has suddenly turned red. A young boy pipes up that they should go see if the "water god" is hurt. The color is from Leo's blood dripping into Sheece's lake. Sheece tells the water demon to throw the body away, but as soon as they're out of his sight, Kauzel breaks loose and takes control of it.

The townsfolk are reluctant to see the "water god," so Ishuca volunteers to go on their behalf, understanding that they're referring to Sheece. Blood casts a spell and feeds it to Ishuca (wishing he were in the reverse situation, being fed like the kappa), after which Ishuca asks what it was. Blood tells him it's in place of a kekkai for his protection. If anything dangerous happens, he should stand near water and say the magic words.

The controlled water demon surges from the river to attack them, and Blood cuts it in two. He charges ahead onto the lake's surface to confront Sheece, frustrated by Ishuca calling out polite greetings. Sheece declares that his children wouldn't attack anyone without his orders, and he's appalled to hear that Blood hurt one. He then refuses to accept the kappa, demanding to know what they expect from him, bringing something artificial along. He commands them to leave, sending the water demons to chase Ishuca.

Ishuca recites the spell, summoning the joined spirits of the lake monster and his 'Baachan to guard him. The water demons switch targets, fasting onto Blood instead, who refuses to hurt them now that he knows Sheece treasures them. Sheece taunts him, saying he doesn't smell of blood at all, asking if his reputation as Kaerichi was all just show. To his amazement, Blood smiles proudly at the "insult."

While Leo recovers from his injuries, Wild and Rapunzel finally arrive at their tower. (Wild-"I'm sorry for bringing you to a small place again." Rapunzel-"I like small places. It means you're that much closer.") At the lake, Blood boasts to Ishuca what Sheece said about his scent. Ishuca praises him, realizing it's proof that he's been keeping his promise not to kill anyone. Sheece is utterly mystified.

Looking closer, Sheece can see the water-colored stone inside Ishuca. Blood shushes him desperately before he blurts out anything incriminating, which of course forces Sheece to deduce where the tear jewel came from. He is Amused. He releases Blood from the water demons, arguing that he hates humans and demons and especially fools, but he does like fools who are entertaining.

Blood explains that the ghosts are Ishuca's family, since they all share the same name. He beckons, and the spirits lead Ishuca out onto the lake. Sheece informs them about the messenger with the black arm inside. Alerted, Blood grabs Ishuca just as the demon he sliced in half attacks. One half bites the jewel out of Sheece's body and takes it back to Leo on the shore.

Sheece won't fight back against one of his own children, no matter who is manipulating it. He feels sorry for it, being used by Kauzel to the point where it's still driven to work even after being so grievously wounded, and asks for its forgiveness. As he cries, his body falls free of the kekkai. Ishuca offers to heal him, but he declines, saying the stone that was the source of his power has already been taken.

He prepares to sleep in the lake. If he's still sleeping the next time they pass through, they should wake him then. Blood tells him to wait for them, and they'll bring his jewel back. Sheece says the same thing Kauzel had, that Ishuca is slightly lacking, and warns the boy that he's too pure and could probably do with being covered in blood once. He whispers a last message to Blood before closing his eyes. Blood creates a magic bird to carry an order to Nei. They take the kappa with them back to the last town, where they find a group of children has collapsed.

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