The man Lawrence and Holo are startled by is not Col. However the sack placed upon the table is indeed Cols. The hooded man that dropped the bag quickly draws into the crowd. Lawrence and Holo pay for their drinks and give chase. They end up in a building site of Lesko and spot a white hare sitting upon a well. This hare looks up at them. Speaking with authority, he says that Col is not harmed. He says his name is Hilde Schnau, treasurer of the Debau company. He is currently searching for the forbidden book of destructive mining techniques. His men spotted Holo, Lawrence and the others in Lenos which is why he has sought them out now.
Hilde explains that the Debau company is currently split into two opposing sides. They have made too much profit from the proposition of minting new coins. Because of which, some employees have become greedy and seek even more money. The plan is to make more currency by melting down other territories' coins. After that they hope to pounce when the current mines run dry. Hilde explains that he needs the forbidden book in order to slow them down. Holo can sense the truth from him, so it seems Hilde is just incredibly desperate. Desperate enough to take Cols bag away as a way of gaining Holo and Cols attention. Hilde feels like the northlands need to be protected and his plan is slipping away quickly. That is why he needs to bargain with his colleagues at Debau with the forbidden book.
Hilde may have taken Cols bag, but he seems to be in a huge bind because his actions are good. He tells Lawrence and Holo that he knows they are settling down here in this town. He says it would be in their favour to help him out, financially that is. He is the Debau treasurer after all.
They enter a deserted dark alleyway and stop to think. Lawrence asks her if they should just give the book to Hilde. It seems like the only thing they can do at this point. But she cries and thumps his arms and chest in jest. He wonders why she's reacting in such a way. She's sad because the mining techniques could possibly be used to destroy her home in thousands of years to come when he's long dead. Lawrence isn't worried so much because he won't live long enough to see it happen.
Lawrence feels it necessary to say that from here on out, she explicitly protested the idea of getting the book and giving it to Debau. He hugs her tightly and then wipes away her streaming tears.
Next day Lawrence has another talk with Luward and Moizi. He tells them whats going on and advises them to get out of town. They say they will retreat to Yoitsu.
Next Lawrence and Holo talk in their room. They decide to sell the shop despite the downpayment they placed upon it. There is too much risk involved right now.
They share a moment when talking. She mentions something that makes Lawrence appreciate her for being with him. He strokes her head twice and hugs her, resting his chin on her head.
That evening they sell the shop, find Hilde and agree to his terms.
They say that Le Roi will not be interested in the Northlands situation, nor will he be interested in his pleas. So Hilde says that he can pay the man 300 gold Lumione coins which are located at a hidden location someplace in town. Holo gets this money and turns into her true self so as to run south to Kieschen as quickly as she can. This is Le Roi, Elsa and Cols destination to find the forbidden book.
Next day Lawrence finds that the price of silver coin has climbed considerably.
Time passes and Lawrence feels gutted being alone without Holo around. He is awoken by Moizi who claims that things have moved forward for the worse as troops have been called up by Debau.
The Myuri mercenary band flee completely that night, leaving Lawrence alone. Before they left they did ask him to flee with them, however Lawrence feels like he's in the hands of Hilde.
The inn is empty yet Hilde does indeed turn up to speak to Lawrence, still in his hare incarnation. He gives Lawrence two documents and asks him to flee to a town called Svernel located north of Lesko. The first document is a plea for help to stop the radicals. The other is a similar letter but addressed to a lord also from the north. A lord that is against Debau but of whom would be even more against radicals.
Hildes time may be running out. Lawrence refuses the letters and the hare hops away.
A little later Lawrence packs his things in order to head off to join the Myuri mercenaries. Just outside the building he hears drunks. They talk very loudly about finding a hare. They contemplate killing it. Lawrence dashes outside and saves Hilde.
Lawrence takes his belongings, the scrolls and Hilde, and joins the Myuri's.
Somewhere outside the town, everyone talks over a small campfire and Lawrence's wagon. They decide to prepare a meal over the decision to what to do next. Lawrence suggests retreating to Lenos. Hildes wounds have been sown up by someone within the troop and he now rests in a wicker cage.
The hare speaks in a weak voice, slightly surprising Moizi. He whimpers something about having left letters in town. Luward deducts that as the last person to have seen him, Lawrence may know what he's talking about.
Lawrence hands over the letters thinking by this point they would have been useless anyway. However they turn out to be addressed to the Murui troop, which changes everything.
They realise that there is no way they can travel south. Its highly likely the Debau troops will be after them so if they did try to get to Lenos they would be hunted down like wolves. The best bet would be to travel the back roads to Svernel and do the hares bidding after all.
They head up the snowy mountainous northern slopes towards Svernel. They have to take apart their wagon and convert it to a sled, apart from Lawrence's where he leads his horse in front, on foot. Moizi stops to ask Lawrence to give up his wagon. All of Lawrence's belongings are moved to the troop wagons, leaving just his empty wagon behind.
They stay the night in a shack and move on. Hilde wakes up to find that they are deep in the mountains. Word comes that the Hugo Mercenary Company are in pursuit, but they are friends of the Myuri's so they aren't worried. The next day they are attacked by them. As predicted its not too much of a bother, its just arrows being fired at both parties as they slowly advance towards Svernel. A messenger from the Hugo mercenaries goes between each party relaying demands, but the Myuri's refuse to give in.
Because the two mercenaries are friends, they were never going to fight for real. The next day each troop are on opposite ends of a valley. They have covered themselves in pigs blood to appear more wounded, and they have greased their swords rendering them somewhat useless. The overseer of the Debau company on the Hugo side thinks it's going to be a real fight though.
Luward shouts for attack. Just after that Holo reappears. She was delayed in Lesko by a day but has finally made it back. I haven't mentioned this until now but her journey was accompanied by Hildes 'bird friend' who helped her with directions.
Holo takes Laurence away from Luward and the battle. She takes his hand forcefully and leads him off into the snowy evergreen forests and up a steep incline. He is slightly disappointed that she didn't seem to care much about their reunion, and now they are on their way to where she's hidden the forbidden book. She tells him that the bird escort is named Luis. Lawrence answers back to that rather annoyed, and she jokes about his obvious jealousy.
The incline becomes steeper and Lawrence traps his feet in the snow multiple times.
Out of nowhere Holo jumps onto him from above, causing them both to roll down the hill in the snow somewhat. She ends up on top of him hugging him with all her strength. They embrace and stay that way for a while. He wipes away her tears with his finger. Aww.
Holo has stashed the hidden book in a rather sturdy leather sack, along with the 300 gold Lumione coins given to her by Hilde to pay Le Roi had he kicked up a fuss demanding payment.
Holo explains she had trouble leaving Col. Apparently he really wanted to come and help but Elsa held him back.
When Holo asks whats going on regarding the fighting, Lawrence says that apparently The lords of the northlands are to blame for forcing the workers at the Debau company to become rebels.
They decide against running away with the money. The guilt would be too much. Holo talks more about her adventure with Luis the bird. She jokes about falling in love for him, and Lawrence again reacts to jealousy. She wraps her arms around him once more and breaths in deeply to take in his scent. She exhales the words "How much do you think I love you, you fool?". Awww.
She says that Luis has something given from his master, to be delivered directly to Hilde. That master must be mr Debau himself. Lawrence foolishly asks her whether she knows what it is, and she floors him to the ground for asking.
They return to the battle. Despite being a farce, the troops on both sides are genuinely hurt, yet not dead. An avalanche comes thundering down between the trees and onto the battlefield.
Luward shouts for a retreat.
Back at camp over hot food, Luward admits the avalanche was set up by his men. Those left in the snow were the 15 men he had to leave behind during negotiations with the Hugo messenger.
When discussing how to give Hilde his package in private, Moizi comes over to discuss what to do next.
That night the Myuri's officially visit the Hugo mercenaries camping at the bottom of the valley where the battle took place. Negotiations between their leader Rebonato and the Debau overseer called Glem go badly as the Myuri's are betrayed. It was a trap.
Robonato sticks a dagger into Lawrence's left thigh. He then focuses on Luward and breaks his leg and stabs his hand whilst demanding the whereabouts of Hilde. Luward asks why he is being betrayed but the fact remains that the rebels at Debau paid them a hefty sum of money to do so.
Having nearly passing out, Luward calls to Lawrence to call for Holo, which Lawrence does at the top of his voice.
Lawrence wakes up in a bed at Svernel. He remembers reaching the town before dawn. He clambers out of bed to assess his surroundings. He makes it to the hallway and deduces it must be morning still. A young man standing watch notices him and calls into one of the rooms. A second later Holo steps out of said room and waltzes up to Lawrence, mad at him. He asks to be let into the room to talk with the others about the next step of their plan. However she forces him to steady himself against her and the wall. She says that they have lost. It would be better for them to run away just the two of them. He holds onto her shoulders for support and protests, but being the wise wolf she lists everything as a disadvantage. He pleads that it would be mad to leave the Myuri's with them being related to her pack mate. That hurts her, but she holds his hands which are still on her shoulders, looks up at him with tears in her eyes and says that she decided on the name of their shop. He made a promise to her that that was their goal. She says she doesn't want to visit Yoitsu anymore. She knows what is happening to it. She only wants a home. She never wanted to be left in Yoitsu alone. She just wants a place to call 'home'. That is what would make her the happiest of all.
She says these lines "Come, you- do you not yet understand that one must give up certain things? And you have, to gain me. And you will, to gain what comes ahead. You are naive, are you not? Did you mean to carry on our journey forever? You have sympathy. I, too, understand how you cannot have witnessed that and not become so angry you cannot forgive it. But what is that within you that you cannot compromise, I wonder? Is that what you truly must protect? If that is so, why did you take my hand all of those times? You… Am I not your princess? I wish to live a quite life with you…"
Lawrence touches her cheek and she gently closes her eyes. He then pulls her in close with his other arm and embraces her. They then intertwine their hands and at that moment he realises his journey has come to an end. He looses energy and relies on her for support. he realises that this is how he will live his life until the day he dies; with Holos love and support.
|Hilde and Millike|
Hilde, Millike, Holo and Lawrence head into the negotiation room where Hilde realises this man has taken on the name of a deceased merchant. His real name is Klaus von Havlish the Third; the very same lord they were hoping to seek for help. Only this man recognises and lists the flaws of Hilde. Holo says she intends not to help any further.
Millike intends to sell Hilde to the troops arriving in town. However, after Hilde and Millike talk, Millike can also see Hildes side of the story, so he decides to leave him be and just see how his fate turns out naturally.
Millike leaves and forces the troops to back off.
Lawrence rests up the next day. Hilde successfully manages to convince some of the townsfolk about the Debau rebels being in the wrong. He does this from within the inn.
Lawrence sits in a chair, looking out the window to the streets below. Holo approaches and gently calls out to him. She asks him to grab her arm to test his strength. After a successful test, she tells him they will be leaving soon. He says it would be nice if they travelled south again, to new places they have not yet visited. She sticks her hand out for his wallet. He gives it to her officially for the first time. He jokes to say don't spend it all, and she sticks her tongue out at him. They have complete trust.
She leaves via the back door unnoticed and stands at an intersection visible from his window so that he can see her. He says her name to himself with a slight chuckle.
Later, the two of them visit Luward who is still recovering in bed. Moizi and some of the others are out in town stirring up support for closing the town gate before the main force of Debaus troops arrive. If they manage to do that then surly negotiations would be accepted.
An envoy arrives and Hilde goes out to meet the Debau employee for talks. The public is also present, ready to strike the recent visitors if things look likely to turn to warfare.
At first it seems like things would work out for Hilde, but the Debau company throws out 8 boxes of silver coins to the crowd to win them over. Lawrence, looking out the window witnessing the madness below, goes frantic and searches through Hildes belongings, including Cols bag, to find something that can help. He finds nothing and breaks down and cries. Holo comforts him as much as she can but he only gets angry. How can money rule the world like this? He scatters the papers about the air in rage and comes across one of Cols fraudulent papers from before they first met him.
Something stirs within Lawrence's mind. He frantically looks at the fraudulent letters and realises he could do something with them. But what? He looks at Holo for answers but she seems dejected. He stands to the window and sees the Debau employee named Yanarkin scattering silver coin around whilst Hilde pleads to the townsfolk.
"Do it then. I shall quite the howling ones." Holo tells him. She stands by his actions and expects him to do what he must. She stands at the open window and howls. Her bone tingling howl stops everyone in their tracks. Everyone's focus is now at the window.
"The Debau Company's impropriety must be redressed!" Lawrence shouts to everyone below. He repeats this twice more. Yanarkin asks him what evidence does he have. This stumps Lawrence but Holo knows what he should do and says quietly to him "Evidence is support for your case, no more". This triggers him to know exactly what to do. He holds up a random page from one of the documents that he is holding. Lawrence declares to everyone that it is a Debau bill of exchange, and that the money they are throwing around belongs to others. Lawrence goes on to make his point about how real world merchants work, and that the Debau rebels behaviour is wrong and unjust. Lawrence loses his strength and his voice. he falls to the floor and backs himself against it. Holo tells hims to use her as a mediator. He whispers the words with the little strength he has left and Holo repeats them to the people below, also in a grandiose manner.
In the end their words pull through. As a dire final strategy of attack, Yanarkin mentions having the church's backing. Only the church are not prevalent in these parts. Lawrence and Holo crush Yanarkin with the war of words and Hilde convinces the townspeople to close the town gate before the Dabau army arrives in full strength.
Lawrence lies on the floor and Holo sits on top of him resting her elbows on his chest and cupping her chin in her hands.
"I keep getting pulled along by no good males" she says.
"But you love me anyway, don't you?" he replies.
"Certainly, that is where the problem lies" she retorts giving him a sideways grin.
Over the next few days, Hilde has private talks with Millike to gain each others trust. They settle matters and agree a partnership where Svernel can mint Debau gold coins. Lesko are currently issuing out more silver coins so having Svernel in partnership truly can unite the northlands. The army from Lesko would arrive at Svernel and find the town gate shut. It would force them to turn back having lost.
Its evening. Luward holds a cain, ordering the rest of the Myuri mercenary band to get hard at work restoring an old warehouse furnace back to working order for the minting of the gold coins.
Hilde asks Lawrence to join Debau. He politely declines. Its a fantastic offer but he and Holo need to find their own life. After a short talk, Lawrence takes his walking cane and heads back to the inn to rest.
He doesn't get very far before Holo finds him. She carries a casket of wine with her. Lawrence asks her where she got it from. Millike is her response (even though she fails to mention him by name).
She went to visit Millikes wife's grave with him. Lawrence is reminded that even when he dies, she will live a huge amount of her time without him. Holo notices thats what he's thinking so she says "I told him… find your next female already, you fool". Lawrence stares at her in shock. She cackles in laughter walking off.
They make their way to their moonlit room. She has a go at him for the danger he put them into, including his actions with their shared speech to the goings on outside the inn. She warns him that he may suffer if he does anything like that ever again. He thinks he has lost her trust, but she still says "You seem the sort who will uphold a contract, if not a promise". She says that at some point Elsa had promised to be witness to their marriage. She asks him "So, how about it?".
Holo has just proposed to Lawrence. Flabbergasted, he just nods.
She slouches down to his face for what should have been their first kiss, however Holo is far too playful for that. She pulls out of his embrace and giggles. She mentions that before all that, he still needs to fulfil his promise of taking her to Yoitsu.
He says "very well" but points to the wine casket and asks "We can at least drink together, can't we?". She places it on the bed and brings a cup out. She warns him not to drink too much, and he remarks "to think the day would come when you would warn me about that". She just gives him a look and says "Fool".
They sit there, happily in love with one another. Outside we hear the cheers of the first tests for the bellows.
I think its safe to say Holo has been in a set of relationships before, and will again when Lawrence has passed on. Its not the most romantic of situations but its certainly inevitable, and its not like she is the type to cheat on him. Its just that she lives so long its impossible to truly think she can only have one man in her life.
I'm actually really pleased Col wasn't back after all. After the previous volume I thought he was back, cock blocking the romance yet again. Only this time it was a red herring. It was someone else instead! lol.
The romance has really nailed it. Im really happy we are finally seeing a naturally progressing relationship between the two of them.
The pace of these two books was slow. Really slow. Especially the first half of this volume. I cannot give it a high rating because of this.
One more volume to go. I know its a set of epilogues. I just hope that the story has them reaching both Yoitsu and Nyohhira.
Where are the short stories set which were in volume 13?? I know for sure they take place AFTER this volume at least. Lawrence mentioned in this volume that he wants to take her back to the south, so that is maybe where those stories are set.
I rate this book 6-10. Too long winded and long drawn out. I don't think the author can write strong two parters. This would have worked a lot better as one volume. There isn't anything wrong with the story. Its the way it was put onto paper. Its a hard read.
|Knowing he should make full use of his fortune, Lawrence said this: "Welcome back."|
Holo's face shot up from his chest.