Sunday, 3 January 2016

Spice and Wolf- novel 15- The Coin of the Sun I

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Ever since leaving for the northlands, Holo has said very little. Lawrence thinks she has been 'wearing a mask' to hide her true feelings. They have been alone in a vast expanse of empty flatlands for a few days, which is a 6 or 7 day trip before they reach the next town called Lesko. It is a town set up by the powerful Debau company.

Lawrence feels very awkward with Holo because of his actions towards her back in Lenos. They are hoping to find the Myuri mercenary band based at Lesko, the troupe named after one of Holos wolf friends from her home town of Yoitsu.

Holo decides to break the ice on the night of their fourth day travelling. Their small talk has long since dried up so she finally sheepishly asks Lawrence everything he knows regarding the Myuri mercenary band. Lawrence treads carefully around the subject, but towards the end turns the subject around and asks her who is better looking; himself or Myuri. She says that Lawrence is better looking, but she jokes and says that she would rather choose Col or Amati from their early adventures.
Luward Myuri

They finally reach Lesko with great fears and trepidation of the unknown circumstances surrounding the north and the towns military presence. They are surprised to find the town has no outer walls. They are even more surprised by the obvious wealth put into the town.

They locate and enter the inn where the Myuri mercenary band are residing. They chat to a young bloke who belongs to the troupe before the captain makes his grand entrance.
He is a young man named Luward Myuri, and by physical appearance looks very human indeed. Holo notices his necklace with a sad look in her eye and utters the word "claw". She also sheds a few tears. Luward reacts to this very alarmingly and orders the two of them to follow him to another room, barking orders for everyone else to clear out including both upstairs and downstairs.

Once alone in the back room, the three of them share a private conversation. Lawrence holds Holos hand as she acts the timid nun in front of Luward's interrogation. To an outsider this claw would look like a normal black bull horn. She informs him she recognises its scent. The tables turn and Holo starts asking demands of him on who he is. Luward draws a sword to her neck to re-assume dominance and demands to know how she knows it's a claw. However he backs down calmly and explains it is a family heirloom. He asks of her name. She tells him and recites the names of the wolf gods. Luward gives her the claw to hold. He says his late grandfather knew more information about the story of the pack of wolf gods. She pulls back her hood to his shock. But he pulls himself together and says the claw was received by the first captain of the mercenary troupe when it was founded. She reads an inscription in an ancient language that has been etched into the side of the claw. It reads "It's been a while". She cries. Luward gives Lawrence a look and then puts his hand to her shoulder for comfort.
Lawrence embraces Holo as she weeps. Luward speaks softly, "Our Great Guardian Wolf, we have finally fulfilled our promise to you".

Holo and Lawrence are given the finest room available in the Myuri inn. Holo asks for time alone which gives Lawrence and Luward a chance to chat alone. Luward informs Lawrence that Yoitsu is safe, so far at least. He then repeats the same line to the ceiling above, in a louder voice, hoping Holo would be able to hear with those powerful ears of her.

Luward explains that the Debau company are a mining corporation threatening to mine everywhere in the northlands. he informs Lawrence that he and his company would take on Debau had they only to ask.

Discussing about the claw, Luward says he does not know what happened to Myuri. The claw was passed down from generation to generation before reaching him, with orders to give to Holo if she ever turned up again. This does not necessarily mean that Myuri is dead, though it is implied. Nor does it suggest that Luward is blood related to Myuri, though again it is implied.

The Debau company is currently mining in communities of people who need the money in their area. However they are also buttering up everyone else, including all the mercenary bands with free food and lodgings within Lesko, in order to truly take over the north.

The next day Holo is still not back to her old self. Lawrence is at a loss as to what to do to console her. She still has tears in her eyes. He thinks it best for them to go exploring around town. After a few hugs and tears he dresses her. She finds this amusing through her gloominess. He takes her out to the market square and tries his best to cheer her up with various things like buying her a milk drink and sitting near street musicians. They continue their walk and peek into the metalworkers factories.

Continuing their walk once more, they come across a sign written in stone saying something along the lines of the town giving freedom for those with skills, giving no regulations and no taxes to the residents whatsoever. Lawrence is dumbfounded.
They walk around and find an empty shop with a notice on it saying it is for sale at 1200 trenni pieces. Lawrence is fixated at the store. Holo steals his wallet and buys honeyed bread for both of them. He's still transfixed at the store when she returns so she stomps on his foot. Lawrence knows its just a fantasy, but feels best to allow himself to go along with it. He says to her that he needs to sketch the storehouse back in their inn.

Back at their room, Lawrence does indeed sketch out the store. Only this time, Holo helps him out and draw parts of the house alongside him. This is the first time she has ever done this with his drawings. He feels compelled to say something about the possibility of her living with him for real, but she tells him off even before he raises the topic. They sketch together until she dozes off. Holo wakes and dozes off a few times. Each time she wakes up Lawrence notices a look in her eye like he will disappear. He realises she's scared of losing him. She eventually falls into a deep sleep. He puts her to bed and takes the drawing upstairs to the Myuri mercenary bands strategist, Moizi.

Max Moizi
The strategists full name is Max Moizi. They talk together about the state of affairs in town. Moizi informs Lawrence that he was spotted looking at the store earlier in town and so brings up the subject. Lawrence asks what it's like to live here in Lesko. Moizi tells him it's a great place to set up shop if he wishes.

Lawrence is eating with the others downstairs when Holo awakens, though she stays in the bedroom until he appears again. He tells her he has a few berries in hand if she is hungry. He asks her not to eat them all and she complies much to his surprise. But in this case she forces a berry to his lips saying "you seem to have endured enough, after all." Lawrence doesn't know what she means by that.

Lawrence counts his gold coins and finds to be making a good profit. Lawrence feels the need to write to Norah about the wonders of this town. It would be a perfect place for her to become a seamstress with ease. Holo keeps a sharp eye of his penmanship as he writes. She even advises him what she would have wrote as he writes it. Her jealousy towards Norah is still ongoing it seems.

Holo and Lawrence decide together to get more information about the town by asking around, but everywhere they go people call the town full of freedom and liveliness. Even through all this Lawrence and Holo still have their doubts, as the town is being controlled by the powerful Debau company.

They slowly begin to wonder whether the town might truly not have any problems. Lawrence next uses his merchant knowledge to see if there are any secrets. He does this by visiting a money changer. Money changers usually do business on a bridge, however this town does not have a river so they are found by the roadside.
Out of the money changers to choose from, Lawrence picks a man who looks like he isn't doing much to attract business. Lawrence thinks this man must be the one the townspeople use. He deducts that this mans attitude is 'I don't need your custom, you need mine'. Sure enough Lawrence proves to be right.
The man tells him he was better off keeping his southern coins before exchanging them in Lenos. As the area is used for metal work, decent coin is the standard and not the lowly copper coins he received in Lenos. To Lawrence's utter amazement, 1 pure gold Lumione coin can be exchanged for 27 Trenni silver pieces and not the 40 he was expecting.

Holo and Lawrence walk away and discuss things. The simple fact one could buy stock or coin from the town, sell down south for a tidy profit and do the same thing again means that something is definitely amiss with the town. Why wouldn't the Debau company be doing this?

As they walk back to the bustling Myuri inn, Lawrence whispers in Holos ear "Gold coins don't well up out of the ground like a spring. That being the case, either the Debau Company's hiding something or someone else is hiding what they're doing. Or perhaps both". Holo nods back to him with a daring look.

Over a lavish dinner with the Myuri mercenary band, Lawrence and Luward talk about the storehouse Lawrence was looking at. Lawrence quickly diverts the conversation to talking about the towns economy. Lawrence deducts that someone must be bringing in large amounts of silver from elsewhere if most people get paid in silver. Considering nobody would be coming up from the south, it must be making its way from the north. Without even bringing it up into conversation, Lawrence realises Myuri's troupe are the ones doing it.

Holo and Lawrence take a break on the bed in their room. As they lie side by side, they discuss everything about the Debau company and its possible schemes. It seems they want people to stir rumours of war as a way of manipulating mercenary bands. During the conversation Holo moves in very close to Lawrence, resting her head on his shoulders. Lawrence thinks nothing of it as he's too preoccupied with the conversation. He gently pushes her off (much to her exasperation) and tells her he has to speak more with Luward. Just as they both get ready there is a knock on the door. It's a young boy who escorts them to a room where Luward is ready to talk some more.

Luward explains that they still don't know what the Debau company is doing and where it will invade. They admit they are responsible for bringing in silver, and for a time it seems like Lawrence is put into a bind, however the conversation turns to something more mutual for both parties. They want Lawrence to continue his investigations using his merchant wit, saying that they don't know the true flow of the Debau companies money.

After even more talk, Luward gets too drunk. Moizi carries him off, leaving just Holo and Lawrence at the table. Holo stands up and tightly hugs Lawrence from behind, resting her chin into the back of his head. She suggests that maybe the Debau company are not evil after all. They went to so much trouble making this town prosper so why would they want to cause war which would automatically make the residents flee? She suggests to Lawrence that he buy the shop, also saying that she will stay by his side. She explains to him with emotion how much he means to her and how he is alive right here and now. She loosens her grip. He says to her "let's think of a name for the shop", and feeling cheeky she whispers back into his ear "Not the name for the pup?". Lawrence nearly falls out of his chair at her joke. He gets angry with her making fun of his feelings for her and for the rest of that evening she apologises to him but he has none of it. Lol.

Just before heading out next morning, Holo inspects Lawrence and praises him for growing into a more confident man.
They head off and arrive at the vacant shop. Just before he heads inside, he suddenly pieces every mystery together inside his head. He faces Holo in excitement and hugs her. They head inside the shop and he places money on the table in front of a boy in charge of overseeing any inquiries. The boy runs out to fetch his master.

Next scene Lawrence and Holo are back in their room at the inn. He finally explains that Debau are indeed starting a war, a trade war. A war where no blood will be spilled and one where they had everything to gain.
Moizi comes running in explaining that a poster has been put up in town that will change everything. Lawrence guesses correctly that Debau are creating a new currency for themselves. Moizi is shocked that he guessed right.

Debau's scheme was to spread valuable currency throughout the northlands, with any decent currency being fine so long as it was valuable. Because the weaker currencies have been pushed out, it financially strengthens the northlands. Next step for Debau to finally conquer the north is to create their own currency using even purer metals than the decent ones from the south. This unification of their own strong currency will benefit everyone in the north.

That evening Luward, Moizi, Lawrence and Holo discuss their future over expensive wine. The mercenary company as a whole feel it best to move south to carry on living in a way which reflects their way of living, whilst Lawrence says that even though he has put in his downpayment for the shop, he still needs to travel in order to create trusting relationships with future partners in the north.

The whole town is celebrating, creating a carnival atmosphere. Lawrence and Holo banter a lot whilst she is merry with wine. He also wants to let his hair down but she ponders on whether thats a wise decision. They try to join in the fun at the town centre but because its so busy they retreat to a quieter area of the commotion. Over a drink Lawrence can no longer see Holo as a friend that would depart him after arriving at Yoitsu. He can see her by his side for decades to come. He holds his hands out towards her and says he needs to speak to her after they arrive at Yoitsu. She clearly understand what he means. She too takes her hands away from her cup and join his. They draw in close for a kiss, however...

SMACK!

Right between them Cols burlap sack drops down on the table. A voice calls out to both of them from next to where they are sitting, "Kraft Lawrence and Holo the Wisewolf".
Who could this familiar cock block person be I wonder?

---

I actually laughed at Cols arrival at the end. It was such a moment only to be interrupted again by cock block Col. gerrrrrrrr. :p

This novel wasn't exactly the best. It was a nice story in that no real threat or conflict happened, however for a final story maybe that could have been better? Maybe something like that happens in the next volume. Im not saying I want this, but i feel without some sort of struggle this final story will come across as a bit bland.

7-10, but then again this is only half of one story remember.

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