TITLE: The Black Sword
Pausing in their underground search for Demons, The old Kunitsu, Iro finishes telling a traditional story, and the young Kunitsu, Akinobu has a terrible revelation.
“…They met in the dark. Kareke's mouth bit with sharp fangs, and his flesh was hot. He had grown claws, and they tore at Ryushi, who had been his fosterling. The fight lasted a long time. But Ryushi killed the second Demon, the Demon who had grown in the wounded body of his friend. He lived to drag himself out of the cave and tell his story. And then he went back down, into the dark, and was not seen again.”
Iro finished, and was silent. Akinobu felt his heart pounding under his ribs. His stomach clenched. At last he got up, went down to the black pool, and drank.
He felt Master Oburo behind him. They sat for a while, in the shadows, far from the lamp. At last Akinobu said, “You never told me the second Demon was a changed Kunitsu. You never told me they were friends.”
Oburo sighed. “When boys are little, they are told the simpler story. You loved it so much…. I did not want to take the joy of it away from you.”
“You treat me like a child. It was all lies. You told me lies.”
“No. It was not lies. We don't know the truth. It was a thousand years ago. We tell the stories as we have heard them. The Kunitsu in the old stories are all dead. They can not tell us the truth.”
Akinobu stared off into the dark. “Perhaps,” he said, “We will find out for ourselves.”