Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume Sixteen

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram

Blood searches for a place to spend the night in the prostitution district of a town because the priests won't come looking for them there. (Ishuca senses something unusual about the atmosphere of the place but doesn't know why.) The madam of the brothel to which they get taken doesn't want to let a "family" stay, but she's heard the rumor of the golden-haired demon with the red-haired boy and understands their reasons for coming--plus Blood offers to pay double. Blood attempts to convey to Ishuca the nature of the place they're staying, yet the closest approximation Ishuca can grasp is that the girls are in the service industry. Then the girl who brought them spots the demon baby's fins.

The priest who harbors doubts about Amashi and wants to stick up for Sergi, named Ruugis, has made up his mind that he doesn't care if he's branded as a heretic, he wants to determine the truth for himself. Looking for allies, he goes to two priests from the north who survived the demon attack on the temple and tells them everything he knows. Meanwhile, Amashi has been gathering reports from villagers who remember seeing Blood and Ishuca and tracks the pair's progress. Suddenly he receives word of the town with the poisoned water.

Wild is doing his best to combat the temple's rumors about Blood by acting as a fortune teller and assuring girls that the golden-haired demon is a sign of good luck. He turns his charm up full blast on the premise that girls will believe a handsome man sooner than a priest. Back at the brothel, the working girls go crazy over the baby because it's so cute. After their past experience, Ishuca is amazed that they're not afraid. One of the girls, when she finds out they picked up the baby during their travels, asks if she can keep it instead. The madam confronts Blood about being a demon and asks if the redhead is his food.

The two northern priests deduce what must have happened sixty years before in the Great Demon Hunt. They tell Ruugis that in order to find out whether Sergi was right about the black demon, they have to travel south. If their hypothesis is correct, the black demon's physical body should still be sealed there. They set off together secretly in a cart. That night, Kauzel has his human servant use the water demon's jewel to flood the town near the temple. Amashi listens to the messenger from the village with poisoned water and hears the story about Blood and Ishuca going to see the water demon. He starts putting together the pieces and understanding about the four sealed demons.

Just as Blood gets pissed at having Ishuca referred to as "food," the madam laughs and says she's just amused at having someone similar to herself visit. She teases him that he and Ishuca should work for her. He wonders what she really is. As he ponders, he's startled to discover that Ishuca has changed into one of the girls' outfits. Ishuca plays with Blood's hair and relates what the girl had said about wanting to keep the baby. He's wondering whether it would be a good idea. They're interrupted by the commotion about the flooded town. Knowing it must be Kauzel's handiwork, they rush out to check, leaving the baby behind. (Blood wants to leave Ishuca behind where it's safe... then realizes that in the brothel the boy is like a sheep among wolves.)

Wild and Rapunzel escaped the to a rooftop and survived the flood, but most of the humans drowned. Suddenly Kauzel's boy attacks. Wild erects a kekkai around Rapunzel and prepares to do battle when a surprise blast announces Blood's arrival. Blood fights to get the jewel back, but he refrains from using lethal force due to his promise. Ishuca joins Wild and Rapunzel--instigating a debate over whether he should lick Wild's injury to heal it or kiss Rapunzel to transfer to him the honor of doing the healing (while Wild knows that, either way, Blood will be furious).

Ishuca notices that Blood is having a hard time fighting because he won't kill the enemy and also has to worry about the safety of those around him. Wild tells him that sometimes there are kill or be killed situations, and if Blood won't kill... After getting pulled under the water and attacked by the corpses of the people Kauzel murdered, he finally manages to defeat his opponent and retrieve the jewel. Blood starts to be distracted by the boy's puppy dog eyes, so Wild sends a blast at him, though Blood immediately blocks it.

The boy disappears. Blood takes a moment to help a human out of the water, then returns to the others. Ishuca throws his arms around Blood and clings to him, Wild's words echoing in his head.

* * *

Rapunzel decides to throw a birthday party for Ishuca and gets Wild and Blood into it. (Blood, of course, had no idea what a birthday was or how to celebrate it, for which Wild teases him wickedly until Rapunzel drags him away to bake a cake.) Blood demands to know why Ishuca didn't tell him about something so important. Ishuca explains that, since he's undead and his heart no longer beats, he didn't think his birthday counted for anything anymore. Blood yells that it doesn't matter, it's something to be celebrated. At the party, Blood holds him, and Ishuca can feel a heartbeat. He wonders if it's that Blood can move his stopped heart, or if it's a sign that Blood *is* his heart.

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