Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume Seventeen

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram

Now that the jewel is safely back in their possession, Ishuca turns his attention to healing Wild. After making a big fuss over whether or not Rapunzel should get to be the go-between, Ishuca solves the problem by licking his finger and applying it to the wound. Blood wonders what the other two are doing so close to the temple rather than staying safely in their tower, only to be told it's a delayed honeymoon. Of course, Wild doesn't pass up the opportunity to tease Blood about taking Ishuca to a brothel. He goes on to inform Blood about what happened to Sergi and that Amashi is in charge of the priests. Blood gives the water jewel to Wild to deliver to Sheece on their way back to the tower.

At the place Blood and Ishuca had visited, several of the girls come down with a cough. They wonder if it's a cold brought by the demon baby, since it's coughing too. One checks on a sick girl named Lala and screams. Meanwhile, Sergi tells the northern demons everything he knows. He figures it won't be long before Amashi pinpoints Blood and sends the priests to capture him. The demons have their resident Blood-stalker, Nei, locate him so that they can do something. As they search, Sergi reveals that he was taken in and raised by his "grandfather," but they're not actually related. The little demon Zaha takes a fancy to the notion of being "family" with someone who cares for you. Once Nei finds Blood, they all head to town.

Blood and Ishuca return to the brothel to discover that there has just been a murder. Lala was found stabbed through the heart. The madam gets Blood to bury the body. She tries to convince him that he belongs there, still believing that he's keeping Ishuca around for the entertainment of watching his purity become tainted. It shocks her when he yells that all he cares about is simply being with the boy. She's rather disappointed that, despite being a demon, he's not corrupt like she is. She had wanted to feel that she wasn't alone.

After the girl Liria begs to take care of the demon baby a little longer, the madam confronts Ishuca. She wonders how Ishuca can be so pretty and clean, how he can trust a demon so completely. She tells him she hopes he can stay sheltered, leaving him with a kiss on the cheek. He can't figure out why she seemed to be in such emotional pain for a brief moment.

Ishuca feels drained and suspects he might have a cold, so Blood bundles him up in bed. When he goes out to get Ishuca some food, he learns about the cold all the girls are catching. Suddenly, another sick girl turns up dead, stabbed just like Lala. Most of the remaining girls decide to leave before they're killed as well. When they discuss the murders with some townsfolk, they speculate that Blood is responsible because he has a sword.

Blood puts a kekkai around Ishuca's room to protect him--prompted by noticing the lipstick left on his cheek. He goes to examine the body in case it really is the work of another demon, but he has to wait until nightfall after the other girls have paid their respects. While he's out, Liria comes to talk with Ishuca. She can come through the kekkai if he calls her name. She's jealous that he has someone to protect him so he can stay pure. After speaking with her, he feels drained again.

One of the girls goes to complain to the madam about Blood, believing that as the demon mentioned in the priest's rumors, he's no doubt the one killing people. When that has no effect, the girls start to blame the demon baby for spreading the coughing sickness. Blood finally sees the dead body and is shocked when he turns it over. He rushes back to make sure Ishuca is all right. He checks Ishuca's back, hugging the boy in relief that his fever is only from emotional exhaustion, not the strange disease. He decides it's time to leave. Unfortunately, Amashi has located him and is arranging to surround the building.

When Blood and Ishuca go to fetch the baby, the girls are all ganging up to blame Liria for taking it in. The cough wasn't from a cold; the sick girls' bodies were rotting. Panicking from the accusations, Liria casts all the responsibility on Ishuca, claiming he made her take the baby. Furious, Blood seals her voice so she can't say anything else hateful about Ishuca and has to answer his questions. She's been seeing a young man who, from the description, Blood recognizes as the boy Kauzel possessed. Unable to use her any further, Kauzel makes her body begin to rot, killing her slowly and painfully.

The madam shows up with a sword and finishes her. She had done the same for the other girls to end their suffering. She convinced herself that she felt nothing, that killing people didn't affect her at all. She thinks of herself as a demon. She wants to prove that Blood, a true demon, is as capable of murder as she is. She tries to get him to kill the baby, since they can't rule out that it caused the coughing sickness, but Blood won't do it. She cries as she urges them to leave, still pretending that she wasn't hurt by what she did. She knew of the rumor about the golden-haired demon and his companion--but she had heard Wild's version.

Blood and Ishuca take the baby and escape to the roof.

* * *

Blood pulls out a pack of cigarettes that Wild had given him, remembering Wild warning him about smoking in front of Ishuca. Shrugging it off, he lights one up. At that moment, Ishuca walks in and sees him. He scolds, "Mommy didn't raise you to be that kind of child." He had meant it as a joke, having always wanted to say that, but the damage is done. With the word "Mommy" ringing in Blood's head, the poor demon swears off smoking for good.

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