Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume Nineteen

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram

While chasing the Blood-decoy, Amashi realizes that it's a trick. He orders the priests to backtrack and look for the place Blood broke through the wards. He doesn't know how the demon could have escaped the cage, but he suspects Ishuca might make it possible. Then the priests notice that the prostitution district is on fire.

The madam is determined to explain to Amashi that Blood did nothing wrong. She argues with the priests guarding her, insisting they should think for themselves rather than mindlessly following orders. Suddenly they are attacked by the corpses that had been lying in the street. Kauzel's magic is animating them as zombies.

The madam convinces her neighbor to help her fight the zombies. The best way for them to destroy the corpses is to burn them. After setting the streets on fire, she urges her girls to run, then tells a priest to take her to Amashi.

The zombies begin attacking Amashi's group. He deduces that the undead must be the reason the town is burning and gives it no further attention. He predicts that Blood will head north and decides to head him off. The other priests stare at him, shocked by his calm at what they're facing, but he insists that being merciless in disposing of demons is his duty.

Blood continues running with Ishuca. The boy keeps apologizing internally, though he's not sure why. He gets the feeling that he's intentionally blocking something from his thoughts, avoiding it for his own well-being. The one thing he knows for certain is that he won't give up Blood to anyone, no matter what. He holds Blood in his arms and muses that he never wants to be separated from the warmth of the demon's body.

Kauzel's servant boy spreads the evil demon's influence, summoning bats to carry out his will. Meanwhile, some priests are rescuing people in the flooded town. They are perplexed to hear from everyone that the townsfolk received aid from a blond demon with a red-haired companion. They have no way of knowing that the couple fitting that description is really Rapunzel and Wild pretending to be Blood and Ishuca. (Oddly enough, Wild is rather turned on by Rapunzel's disguise...)

Day breaks. Ishuca isn't sure why, but the sunlight makes him unsettled. He feels he would prefer it dark, that the light will uncover things he wants to remain hidden. On their trail, the priests find where Blood broke the wards. Amashi is strangely positive the demon is headed west, as if he's being pulled by some force. He is perplexed that the demon would go that direction, yet he reasons it's just a circuitous route to avoid the flooded town on the way north.

Blood senses there's something wrong with Ishuca. The boy is opening himself up more completely to Blood, but closing himself off to everything else. He mulls over what both Kauzel and Sheece had to say about Ishuca.

The priests who had gone to the village with the poisoned lake return. They had also encountered villagers insisting that the blond demon had helped them. The priests don't understand why the evidence contradicts Amashi's assertion that the blond demon is pure evil.

The northern demons track Blood's progress, assuming he's circling west to avoid the temple. As they decide to head south to meet up with him, they are attacked by more of Kauzel's zombies and bats. Kauzel's servant boy wants to be his "father's" favorite, which is why he is willing to do so much. He reaches the conclusion that he needs to eliminate Blood in order to secure his place as Kauzel's favorite.

The priests in the flooded town are beginning to accept the idea that there may be good demons after all. In the middle of their rescue operation, they are attacked by zombies. Amazingly, Sheece comes to the humans' aid. He gets rid of the zombies, telling the priests to be thankful to the "golden demon," because Sheece is merely returning a favor to him. He goes on to drain all the water away.

Blood confronts Ishuca with his concerns, asking the boy if he's really all right, if there's anything he needs to discuss. Ishuca has been questioning himself about his role in recent events, but the only conclusion he can reach is that he refuses to give up Blood for any reason. He wishes the two of them could shut themselves up in their own little world.

The northern demons split up to dodge through the zombies on their way to meet Blood. Meanwhile, the young priest who believed Sergi, Ruugis, and the two older priests head toward the location of Kauzel's seal. Ruugis and Lindou enter the demon's cave, while the injured Kagura waits tensely outside...startled when he senses someone approach. Inside, the priests come upon Kauzel's empty body trapped in stone.

Blood and Ishuca are headed for Wild's old house, where Kauzel's soul is sealed. As they rest for a while, Ishuca makes small talk, commenting on how beautiful Blood is. He's only doing it to distract himself from having serious thoughts. However, when Blood tries to return the compliment, Ishuca insists that he's not pretty at all. He feels bad about himself.

Amashi continues following his instincts. He orders his priests to keep burning the zombies, blaming Blood for the undead. The zombies are menacing villages all across the land. At one besieged village, the astonished villagers are rescued--by Nei. He finally rejoins the other northern demons, returning Sergi's staff. Sheece had saved him from Kauzel's poison, though he still needs Ishuca to heal him completely.

When the demons realize Blood isn't turning north as they had expected, Sergi points out that he might be going to his "friend's" house. The mention of a "friend" makes Nei instantly jealous.

In a nearby village, Rapunzel is attacked by the undead but uses magic to stop them. Rapunzel says he figured out that his magic works because he puts his heart into it. He leaves a message for Kauzel that, no matter how much power the evil demon has in his words, he can't possibly defeat those who put their hearts in their words. Wild appears and clears away all the zombies (thoroughly charming Rapunzel).

Amashi's directional instinct grows stronger and stronger. His certainty frightens the other priests. He is determined to defeat Blood and end his hunt, for his own sake. A short distance ahead, Blood and Ishuca set out on their journey again. They come across a child threatened by zombies.

The child's existence shocks Ishuca out of his isolation, forcing him to notice that there are others in the world. While Blood gets rid of the zombies, Ishuca berates himself for being so wrapped up in his own desires. He is appalled at what he had been avoiding--the extent of his own selfishness. He knows he may have been able to save lives if he had split up with Blood and stayed behind at the brothel to heal people, but he ignored that possibility due to his selfish desire to remain with the demon.

Blood wants to know what is causing Ishuca such distress, but the boy can't tell him. Ishuca tearfully begs Blood not to notice, not to ask. He's terrified that if Blood realizes how tainted with selfishness he is, the demon will hate him. All Blood can do is hold him tightly.

At Kauzel's cave, Kagura joins the other two priests, bringing with him Sergi's grandfather. Raugul explains that he has a plan...which involves breaking the seal on Kauzel's body. At the same time, everyone else--the northern demons, the madam and her escort, Wild and Rapunzel, and Amashi's group of priests--converges on Blood near Wild's house in the west.

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