Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume Four

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram

Blood finally gets the jewels from the cliff that Wild had told him about. He explains to Ishuca that he had entered into a contract for them--a demon contract is a binding of words that, if broken, rebounds and kills the one who made it. It's the only way demons trust each other to do anything, because a contract forces them to stake their lives on their words.

Blood takes Ishuca to an abandoned house for the night, but he knows they're being watched, so he doesn't stay. He meets up with Nei, who tells him there's something in the nearby woods that's killing demons. He wants Blood to finish it off for them. Blood makes a contract with him that he'll take care of whatever's in the woods, and in return the demons won't go near Ishuca. Another demon from the gang, Zaha, chats with Nei about what their leader could possibly see in that human, which gets on Nei's nerves because he's in love with Blood and doesn't want to give him up.

Blood goes back to Ishuca and apologizes for leaving him alone. He says he has to fulfill his contract with Nei, and then afterward they'll sell the jewels. (Ishuca is astonished at the fortune they're worth, but Blood tells him it's normal...to support two people.) As Ishuca sleeps that night, Blood cradles him in his arms and muses about how vulnerable he looks. (Blood-"I wonder what he thinks of me?" Author-"Probably 'sofa.'")

Blood allows Ishuca to come along with him partway the next day. The demons can't approach Ishuca, but a loophole is that he can approach them. (Zaha-"But a person who's a target would never do that." Ishuca-"Hey! Morning! Genki?") He starts exchanging greetings with them and invites them to travel together. Nei (and Blood for that matter) is severely Not Amused.

Blood pulls Ishuca away and they start talking about what kind of demon is living in the woods. Blood says it draws others inside its kekkai where they can't escape and eats them, like when he was trapped in the ice. Ishuca asks how he got out of the ice (since he had been dead at the time...) and decides it must have been the tear jewel, though Blood desperately avoids the subject out of embarrassment. Ishuca thinks about how Blood seems more and more human with his changing moods.

They notice the demons making a fuss and go investigate. They find Sergi surrounded and protect him, though Blood makes him throw away his ward. Blood gets Sergi to be Ishuca's escort so that he can go off alone to tackle the demon in the woods. Sergi tells Ishuca that he followed because he couldn't get Blood out of his mind.

Ishuca wanders off to pick fruit so he'll have something to feed Blood when he gets back. He overhears some of the demons discussing the contract Nei made, and how it was a trap. It's not a demon in the woods, it's a seal set by priests that no demon can break. It's set up to look like a demon treasure, but it's bound by a holy seal so that if a demon touches the sword used as bait, all the demon's energy is drained.

Ishuca yells at the demons for tricking Blood into a contract that's impossible to complete. Zaha argues that Nei didn't lie--he never said there was a demon in the woods--and it was Blood's own fault for not checking into it before making the contract. Ishuca protests that Blood was showing how much he trusted Nei, so much that he staked his life on it. Zaha accuses him of not knowing how they feel, going so far as burning himself on the power of the contract to get his point across.

Ishuca heals Zaha, saying he doesn't understand their feelings but he'll do his best to try if they give him a chance. He runs off to think it over, not to mention warning Blood about the trap. Unfortunately he falls and gets a nasty gash in his leg just as they reach the spot. While Sergi goes looking for water to wash the wound, Blood decides to heal it--starting with a nice long kiss to collect the healing power, of course. (They get into a cute exchange about how utterly delicious Ishuca's blood tastes to a demon. Sergi can't believe his ears.)

Blood notices that the holy seal weakens in the spot where Ishuca's blood dripped. Meanwhile, the demon clan members argue about the change that's come over Blood. They grumble that they don't need a leader anymore. Nei tells them they're cowards--they can't even bring themselves to call Blood by name, only by his title--and dares them to try living on their own instead of part of the group.

Blood collects the fallen droplets of Ishuca's blood and uses them to weaken vital points of the holy seal. With that, plus his incredible power and magical skill (he chants three spells simultaneously [...makes one wonder what else that tongue can do...]), he manages the impossible feat of breaking the trap. Sergi can't believe that A) he could do such a thing and B) a demon would risk his own existence in exchange for the promise of Ishuca's safety.

The other demons come just in time to see Blood draw the sword. As the seal shatters, so does the tree it was wrapped around. Blood throws up kekkai to protect everyone from flying shrapnel (though only Sergi notices). Zaha and the other demons cheer for him, even though they had originally wanted him to fail. (Seeing Blood being so totally awesome made them remember why they adored him in the first place.)

Sergi is surprised by how human the demons seem. Ishuca defends them, saying they're not "things," they're living beings, they have feelings. He goes on to elaborate about the ones he knows, commenting that Zaha is cute when he smiles--which tickles Zaha no end.

Blood gives the sword to Sergi, since it belonged to the priests in the first place. He thanks Ishuca for helping him break the seal, but he doesn't say why. He knows that if others found out about Ishuca's powers, he'd be in deep trouble from anyone wanting to use him to get past holy seals and kekkai, on top of how wonderful he'd taste as a meal.

They agree to set off again in the morning, Ishuca thinking that he doesn't even care where they go in the future as long as they're together. Just as he begins making supper, however, Blood collapses. Blood's last thought as Ishuca takes him in his arms is that he smells something very, very sweet.

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