Koori no Mamono no Monogatari
Volume Nine

Story by Sugiura Shiho
Summary by Amparo Bertram

Klaus boldly proclaims that he's come to take Rapunzel away and is profoundly surprised when the response is essentially, "Sure, go ahead." The sorcerer explains what happened when he caught Rapunzel's father stealing from him--the father immediately begged for his life, offering anything. As a joke, he asked for the man's child, intending to forgive him when he risked his life to refuse--never expecting the father to agree. He asks whom should really be punished, the demon, or the human thief who valued his own life more than his child's and then tried to break a contract on top of that by not giving the child over willingly.

Klaus accuses him of treating Rapunzel's fate too lightly due to not having a heart. When the sorcerer lashes out in anger, he accidentally knocks Klaus from the tower, and Rapunzel falls after him when attempting to save him. The sorcerer commands the hedge surrounding the tower to break their fall. Klaus takes Rapunzel with him to be reunited with family. The sorcerer watches them leave, regretting that he ever became a demon. He wishes Rapunzel a life never knowing darkness, never taking the wrong path the way he did.

Rapunzel gets the feeling something has been overlooked but doesn't know what. Rapunzel spots the house, the returning father performing the same coming home kissing ritual that the sorcerer always had, and asks Klaus what it meant. He says it meant "I love you." It echoes in Rapunzel's head, the unspoken words corresponding to all the kisses the sorcerer had bestowed. The prince gets frantic at Rapunzel's sudden tears ("Oh, no! I made a girl cry..."), but Rapunzel only apologizes to him and announces the intention to return to the tower make sure of something.

Rapunzel heads back, Klaus in hot pursuit. He won't let Rapunzel enter the tower alone. He asks Rapunzel to promise to go back "home" once determining that the sorcerer is really a demon. Rapunzel admits missing loved ones, but also points out all the kind things Sorcerer-sama had done, which kept life in the tower from ever being lonely. Klaus attempts to fight the demons surrounding them on the stairway. The demons ask what they're searching for, and Rapunzel figures out that something must be "needed" in order to "know" the password opening the upper door.

First Rapunzel tries "Sorcerer-sama," but that doesn't work. From Klaus' assertion that he fights evil using the "name of God," Rapunzel deduces the password is probably a name. A memory crops up of the sorcerer telling his own name, and Rapunzel yells out, "Wild!!" When the demons demand the identity of the one who knows their master's name, the answer "Rapunzel" banishes them all. Wild had made certain that if someone truly did love Rapunzel, if the parents came to the tower to get their child back, all they had to do was answer "What are you searching for?" and they could pass safely.

Klaus understands and urges Rapunzel to return to Sorcerer-sama. Wild has sunk into a depression, though he knows he must have done the right thing by giving Rapunzel back to a normal human life. He knows he could never have been able to bear seeing Rapunzel die and would have used immortality magic to prevent it, staining Rapunzel with darkness. He sees Rapunzel's golden hair as a sign of light and doesn't want to taint it, though if he could he would treasure Rapunzel until the day he died.

Suddenly Rapunzel bursts through the doorway and collapses in front of him (out of breath from the stairway) , apologizing for not knowing the meaning of his kisses. He says, "Rapunzel...you may not remember...but you were the one who first taught me." Meanwhile, back at his castle, Klaus' brother starts talking to the maid who had told them about the kidnapping, relating how Klaus had gone to meet the beautiful girl. Puzzled, the maid says, "...But it was a boy." Klaus responds that it doesn't matter, Rapunzel is a beautiful person, regardless of gender or appearance. What makes him pause for thought is that the one who raised Rapunzel to be that way...

* * *

Back in the present, Wild muses that what he had done at that time, accepting Rapunzel into his life, had probably been mistaken. He prays that if there is any crime in what has happened, any punishment to be given, that it falls on him alone. He entrusts the true resolution to Blood and Ishuca.

In Ishuca's village, the two are finishing a shopping trip when a demon pulls a child into a well. Blood dives in and rescues it, but it swallowed too much water, so Ishuca calls it back and breathes life into it. (Ishuca asks if Blood's upset at getting wet, but it's summer so it feels good. Ishuca plasters himself to the drenched Blood and wholeheartedly agrees. Blood is Happy.)

Rapunzel is engrossed in watching his braid sweep leaves, but Wild takes the hair and dusts it off, calling it "my precious gold." Rapunzel asks about Wild's job finding someone, but he says it was easy and he's already finished. Rapunzel knows he's hiding something yet thinks, "I doubt it's as big as my own lie."

At the temple, Sergi is chatting with some friends who comment that another priest of his level, Amashi, is much scarier than he is. Said Amashi is the grandson of another of the four head priests. The grandfather has sent Amashi on a quest to locate Ishuca and bring him to the temple. When Sergi goes off in search of Ishuca and Blood to talk to them, he discovers that Amashi is ahead of him.

Ishuca and Blood are in Ishuca's bedroom chatting about Blood's lack of paperwork needed to buy the house. Blood is quite willing to be entered in Ishuca's family register, but he's less than thrilled when Ishuca suggests entering him as an adopted son. (Pouting ensues.) Suddenly Blood shuts off the light as he senses two people with holy wards (Amashi's assistants) approaching. The pretend they're not home and overhear that the ones with the wards are searching for Ishuca to take him away.

The two men enter the house and start searching all the rooms. By the time they get to the second floor, they open the bedroom door to see Blood in the bed (smoking :-P). He tells them, "Could you be quiet? You'll rouse the woman. She just fell asleep. She's sleeping from being worn out, so I'd like you not to wake her." Continuing to promote their worst fears, Blood gets them to leave. (Though when he nudges Ishuca up, the poor boy hasn't got a clue why they were so flustered. Blood thinks, "I've got a long way to go...")

Asking around the village, Amashi hears about Ishuca's gold-haired companion. When his assistants return, he figures out that they had been tricked. He dashes back to the house, but Blood and Ishuca have already taken off. The couple sets out for Wild's place on the assumption that it's safest. Narrating, a voice says, "We never did buy the house. But it was probably for the best. We never went back to it again."

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