Spice and Wolf – 05
Having received the letter with wolf hair inside from the Medio company, Marlhait realizes that they’re being presented with a threat to take Horo to the church. The problem is that even if they get her back, they’ll have problems with the church, and it’ll be hard for Lawrence and Horo not to get prosecuted no matter where they go. Lawrence, however, recognizes that the greatest benefit from the silver coins is in the privileges that they can get from the king since the royal family is financially pressed right now. Depending on the negotiation, one could use the coins to get mining rights, minting rights, tariff rights, and market management rights, and Lawrence proposes that they use these privileges as a negotiation card before Medio prosecutes. He thinks that Medio would be willing to buy those privileges from them, and if the church has its eye on them, then the king who has these dealings would also antagonize the church. In short, Medio won’t prosecute them because it wouldn’t want the king’s animosity, and so Milone can use Horo as a condition in a trade for the privileges. Lawrence also adds that he doesn’t think Medio has amassed many silver coins yet because of how they didn’t immediately turn Horo over to the church. He feels that Medio putting them in a difficult position shows a lack of confidence on the other side.
As for what Lawrence will do, he plans to take Horo back and to continue on running until the negotiations finish. When he asks Marlhait how long it’ll take to get enough silver coins to negotiate with the king, Lawrence is surprised to learn that the Milone company is ready to go right now because they can use an optimistic estimate. Marlhait is confident in the company’s negotiating ability and knows where Horo is being held. He feels that their emergency measures are perfect, but their one rival is the church which has reached an even larger number of towns and countries than they have. In any case, Lawrence has the Milone company’s help in getting back Horo, and it involves an elaborate plan that has him secretly entering the sewers and following a path until he’s below a warehouse. Lawrence waits past the agreed upon time, and right as he’s thinking about turning back because of how late it is, he hears someone say the secret word from above. After Lawrence confirms who he is with another secret word, Horo and a man jump down into the sewers. They then proceed to the rendezvous point and board the carriage waiting above ground.
As it turns out, Horo is actually quite pissed off at Lawrence because he didn’t personally come fight to get her, but he’s just glad that she’s safe. Horo then reveals that she met Chloe while being held in captivity, and Chloe had said that the era of them paying their respects to her was over. Chloe wanted to turn Horo in to the church so that they could put the old era behind them, and this all made Horo quite frustrated. She now starts crying, and after thinking about it for a moment, Lawrence points out that she’d have had to leave anyway to go North. He also considers the two of them as merchants – laughing when they get money and crying when they have none – and he thinks that they’ll be laughing. Horo feels better after hearing this, though she feels the need to make it clear that she would have cried even if it hadn’t been in front of him. Lawrence responds to this by claiming that he’s with her for the money, and it’s their job to stay on the run until the Milone company contacts them. Their carriage then arrives at the drop-off point, and Lawrence asks his drivers to tell Marlhait that Count Ehrendot is behind Medio before he and Horo escape down into the sewers again.
What stands out for me about this episode is how complex the discussion between Lawrence and Marlhait was in the first half of the episode. If you’re not paying close enough attention (which I wasn’t the first time I watched the episode), it’s easy to get lost amidst the talk of using the silver to bargain for privileges from the king that they can then use in negotiations. Some people might enjoy that sort of thing, but so far it hasn’t been appealing to me much. I’d rather see things like the developing dynamics of Horo and Lawrence’s relationship, as shown in the latter half of the episode. And as expected, it was Chloe who appeared in front of Horo, and though she had some harsh words, it’s not clear how much of an antagonist she’ll end up being (if at all). The church always seems more sinister, and this case is no exception. Having said that, I think it’ll be the Medio company that comes after Lawrence and Horo first, and that’ll probably result in the silent farewell hinted at in the title for next episode.