This novel covered the first half of the second season of the anime.
Lawrence and Holo travel to Kumerson, where a pagan festival is taking place. Upon arrival, they meet Fermi Amati, a young merchant and Lawrence's fellow guild member. Amati, who seems smitten with Holo, helps them get a room in the trading company, where Holo drinks too much on the first night and has a hangover the following morning, during which Lawrence sells the nails in his cart to his friend Mark. That night, Lawrence asks Holo a few questions about towns neighboring Yoitsu and ascertains that it will probably take another year or two to reach it. Lawrence suggests that they can split up once they reach the town of Niohira, since it would only take Holo two days to reach Yoitsu from there, but he quickly regrets his lack of tact.
Instead of taking Holo to the festival as planned, Lawrence is taken by fellow merchant Batos to meet Dianna Rubens, an alchemist, to learn more about Yoitsu. She tells Lawrence of a legend about the bear that destroyed Yoitsu and also of a large wolf near the town of Renos who called herself Holo of Yoitsu. Later when sharing a drink with Mark, Lawrence becomes jealous of Amati, fearing he may be trying to steal Holo away from him. When they both return to the inn, Holo reveals how she lied to Amati, telling him she travels with Lawrence because she owes him a large debt. She also recounts how Amati and a crowd of other festival-goers haggled over pieces of pyrite, greatly inflating their price.
In front of the Merchant Guild, Amati challenges Lawrence, proclaiming he will pay for Holo's falsified debt of 1,000 silver coins and then propose to her, certain that she will leave Lawrence. Lawrence researches Amati, discovering that his plan to pay back the debt relies on the sale of pyrite. Back at the inn, Holo discovers and reads a letter for Lawrence containing an explanation of the legend about the bear that destroyed Yoitsu. When Lawrence returns, she claims that he knew Yoitsu was destroyed the entire time and he has now grown tired of her. Her fit of rage prompts Lawrence to leave the inn.
Lawrence realizes that he has to drop the price of pyrite or risk losing Holo to Amati. After receiving the information on Amati's assets, Lawrence finds Amati and proposes a deal based on credit (essentially, a naked short on pyrite), which will result in profit for Amati if the price of pyrite rises or losses if the price of pyrite falls. Amati accepts the deal after Lawrence appeals to his chivalry and causes him to doubt that Holo will agree to his marriage proposal. Unable to enlist Mark's help to purchase the pyrite necessary to pull off the deal, Lawrence turns to the alchemists in the belief that they should have a large amount of pyrite that he can purchase.
To gain access to the alchemists' quarter, Lawrence asks Batos for a password to meet Dianna. Upon his arrival, Lawrence is told that the pyrite has already been sold on credit. Dianna, however, agrees to sell Lawrence pyrite instead and tells him that she will handle negotiations and contact him upon their completion. Just before he leaves, he asks her if there are stories of pagan gods and humans becoming lovers. She replies that there are plenty, then wishes him good luck as she sees him off. The next morning, Lawrence goes to the exchange with Amati and receives fourteen gold coins, equivalent to 300 silver coins, in accordance with their deal. The price of pyrite continues rising, worrying Lawrence.
|Holo, Amati and Lawrence|
Lawrence participates in the pyrite market, selling small quantities several times to combat the rapidly rising prices, but to no avail. Lawrence's original plan falls through when Dianna's messenger informs him that the negotiations did not go as planned. In despair, Lawrence all but gives up before he is spurred on by Mark's apprentice, Landt. When Lawrence goes to sell his remaining pyrite, Holo also sells a large bag purchased from Dianna, revealing that she was attempting to help Lawrence from the beginning. The market quickly turns to selling, dropping the price of pyrite and causing Amati huge losses. He fails to fulfill his portion of his challenge to Lawrence and gives up his marriage proposal to Holo as a result. Holo and Lawrence talk things through. She was the one who got to Dianna before Lawrence did, and was even hiding in the room when he called on her the second time. She tells him that Dianna is a god herself, one of a giant bird. She then reveals that she even overheard him when he asked her whether there are stories of pagan gods mating with humans. She tells him that if he truly feels that way towards her, she would accept him.
This was an unbelievably moving story. The ups and downs of Lawrence and Holo's relationship in this story was just pure win. In the end you really feel that they have moved much closer to each other. Each realise that they will eventually fall in each others arms, yet feel like the timing is too soon. I have absolutely no idea about relationships, but this totally feels like one of most realistic romances ever told. I also feel like the hardships told in this story was the repercussions of not arguing with your other half. I had no idea arguing was this important in a relationship! 10-10 yet again.