Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume Eight

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram

Gairie tells Sergi the truth about what happened sixty years before, during the time of the Demon Hunt. There was one powerful demon leading each of the four regions. The priests didn't have enough manpower to combat all of the demons, so they came up with an idea to make the demons finish each other off. They captured the four head demons alive and placed them in each other's territories--the North Leader in the west, the West Leader in the south, and so on. The leaders, mortal enemies of their rivals, killed all the lesser demons around them despite the disadvantage of being bound by the priests' kekkai.

Sergi is appalled that demons would be used as living sacrifices, their power supporting the priests' kekkai for decades. When he protests to his grandfather, one of the four head priests, he admits that he met a demon with a heart. The grandfather reveals that he has met a demon with a heart as well, but it's simply too dangerous to include that in the priests' training because it might make them hesitate when battling evil demons. He encourages Sergi to use his own judgment when it comes to such a situation.

Wild reasons out what must have happened to Blood at Toei. He has a talk with Ishuca, who's concerned that demons can't live "normal" lives, since Blood had told him he had never stayed in a house before (though he has apparently "lived with" another demon). Wild snarkily points out that he and Blood won't necessarily be together, Blood will probably go back north to his friends, which makes Ishuca all flustered. When the pair leaves, Wild rubs it in by chiding Blood for letting a demon who would claw Ishuca's back get so close to him.

Ishuca wants to ask Blood to live with him, but he's filled with anxiety that it won't work out being in a human village. Even the thought of being apart from Blood makes him lonely. Then Blood asks him when would be a good time to buy the house from the landlord, it being a nuisance to have to renew the lease every year. He says that *of course* they'll live together, that's what human families do. He also has regained his confidence that he won't hurt Ishuca anymore.

Rapunzel muses that it would be nice if the pair visits again, and Wild replies that they might not come back--quickly adding "for a while" when Rapunzel challenges him. That night, after telling the sleeping Rapunzel that he's sorry, he goes outside and sends a full name and description of Ishuca to someone. He silently tells the two of them to give up, because he's living proof that a demon and a human can't be happy together.

* * * RAPUNZEL * * *

A cloaked figure carries a child up a long staircase, surrounded by dark spirits asking their master if he's bringing them prey. The child awakens in a high tower, alone with the cloaked demon, and asks, "Are you by chance a sorcerer-sama?" The child goes on to thank "Sorcerer-sama" for his help, not realizing it was a kidnapping. The sorcerer assures the child (to prevent tears) that because of the tower's height, any relatives that weren't chased away by demons will come looking at the obvious landmark someday. "So wait here until then, Rapunzel."

Rapunzel asks how he knew that name, since it wasn't supposed to be told to strangers, but then hastens to assume it's due to magic. The sorcerer warns Rapunzel never to open the tower's door, because the stairway is guarded by demons. That makes Rapunzel worry that Sorcerer-sama will be hurt by them, so he has to explain that his magic makes it all right for him.

The sorcerer wonders what to do, since he doesn't really like kids, but he doesn't want to kill it--that wouldn't be profitable. He figures maybe selling it would be his best option. In the nearby village, the gossip is that the child had gone too close to the Demon Woods and had been carried off by the demon residing there, the Bearer of Darkness. (Bingo!) He works as a fortuneteller and pharmacist, among many other things, never revealing his true name to anyone, because names have power. All he cares about is money.

The sorcerer gives Rapunzel some books to read, then Rapunzel kisses him good night. (Rapunzel doesn't know what kissing means, but Okaasan always did it, so...) A man comes to the sorcerer to buy a kid, but for some reason he doesn't want to sell Rapunzel. The man runs away, afraid for his life, when he discovers the sorcerer isn't human. The sorcerer is sick and tired of being feared. Yet Rapunzel is never scared of him. He reasons, rather than selling Rapunzel off, add a little training and *presto* he gets a free assistant. Finally he gives in and begins to return the good night kisses.

Ten years pass, and the sorcerer casts a spell on Rapunzel's braid to make it climbable so there would no longer be any need to use the tower door. Then one day Prince Klaus appears. He finds the tower just after the sorcerer leaves and climbs Rapunzel's hair. They start talking about Rapunzel's life in the tower. Klaus asks about the door, and Rapunzel explains it's locked with a magic "need to know" password. Klaus comes to the conclusion that the poor girl was confined in the tower and forced to work against her will. He vows to come back and rescue her. When he gets home to his castle, he hears from a maid about the child who had been kidnapped by the Bearer of Darkness and realizes it's one and the same as Rapunzel.

That day the sorcerer earns a pouch of money by working as an assassin, but pondering it afterward he throws it away. He wants to be more worthy of being called Sorcerer-sama than Bearer of Darkness. He thinks about having taken Rapunzel, arguing with himself that he had merely been fulfilling a contract, but he still feels guilty. Rapunzel notices that the air between them is becoming gloomy--especially when he doesn't return the customary good night kiss.

Klaus returns and tells Rapunzel what he learned about the kidnapping. He insists that Sorcerer-sama is really Bearer of Darkness, an evil demon. He goes on to say that he found records from two hundred years before telling of how the Bearer of Darkness had been a human who turned to the path of evil, his hair and eyes becoming stained black when he changed into a demon. He also searched for Rapunzel's family. Rapunzel refuses to believe him, but he says he can't leave someone in such a condition, he'll come back the next day.

When the sorcerer gets home, Rapunzel decides to ask him directly about being brought to the tower, expecting him to deny it was a kidnapping--but he can't. He knows right away that the question means a stranger had been to the tower and demands to know who. When he sees the fear in Rapunzel's eyes, he admits everything. He cuts off the enchanted braid, saying it's all he needs, and the next time the stranger returns, Rapunzel should leave with him. Then the sorcerer kisses Rapunzel and goes to his room. That night, after Rapunzel is asleep, Klaus enters the tower and confronts the sorcerer.

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