Spice and Wolf – 08
In a tavern, Lawrence and Horo find themselves hearing about a magician who’s supposedly attacking travelers by summoning wolves on a detour road to the city of Rubinhaigen. Horo prays that this magician isn’t a woman because she knows that Lawrence is easily deceived by them. A short while later, the two are forced to leave the tavern because it’s closing, and that pisses off Horo because it’s too early. Lawrence explains that it’s due to the town they’re in being under management of the church, and he thinks that things will be better in Rubinhaigen. Horo is excited at the prospect of a large city because that means they might have apples, and Lawrence telling her about various fruits being preserved with honey makes her drool. After getting him to promise to buy her some, she insists that they hurry up and sell the pepper so that they can leave for Rubinhaigen. The next morning, the two visit a merchant who starts the trading session off by asking if they brought a scale. Lawrence didn’t, but he knowingly says that he believes in God, causing the merchant to choose a scale from his own shelf and bring it to the trading table.
Before they weigh the pepper, Horo tells Lawrence that she’s thirsty, and although Lawrence tells her to endure without it, the merchant gets her some water. Lawrence and the merchant continue on with the trading as Horo drinks, and the merchant ends up offering Lawrence 32 and 5/6 silver coins for the pepper. Right as Lawrence is about to accept the deal, Horo starts pretending that she’s feeling dizzy. She makes it a point to say that things look tilted to her, and she then pretends to stumble so that she can spill her water on the trading table. This serves two purposes. First, Horo is able to show that the merchant gave her wine to drink instead of water, meaning that he wanted the person he was trading with to get drunk. Second, the liquid is flowing towards the opposite end the table, signifying that the table is not level. Lawrence uses all of this to blackmail the merchant into giving him some high-grade armor, and he and Horo laugh about it afterwards. Horo is proud of herself for what she did, though she then lectures Lawrence about how experience gives birth to overconfidence, and overconfidence can sometimes be fatal – that’s something she thinks that he should have learned from what happened with Chloe.
That night, Horo asks Lawrence to buy her some oil in the next town so that she can maintain her tail. Lawrence initially balks at the idea because of how much money she’s already cost him – 140 silver coins by his calculations – but when she implies that she’d leave him and be alone again if she paid him back, he relents by saying that it’d be okay as long as she repaid by the time they reach the northern forest. Horo is happy with this decision and claims that she was even going to add interest in when she paid him back. This means that the more she borrows, the more she’ll pay back, and this argument convinces Lawrence to promise to buy her the oil. Departing town the next morning, the pair spend the first leg of their trip discussing trade items that can turn a profit such as armor, spice, and jewels, but Lawrence notes that high tariffs are problematic for many of those. Gold in particular has a huge tariff for those importing it, though this doesn’t apply to some of the merchants who are in league with the church. Lawrence also explains that smuggling comes with potentially severe consequences if discovered, including the chopping off of a person’s dominant arm.
The two eventually encounter a caravan whose members warn Lawrence to be careful about a mercenary group from the north. Because of this, Lawrence decides to take the detour route to Rubinhaigen, and he’s reminded of the rumors about the magician. There turns out to be nothing along the route though, and Horo decides to sleep since she’s bored. Because Lawrence worries about being able to tell if wolves are coming while she’s asleep, Horo reveals that there’s no difference whether she’s awake or asleep in terms of her senses. Lawrence uses this chance to tease her about snoring, causing her to get angry, but she suddenly notices senses something. Horo says that it’s the kind of human that she hates and is on edge as the wagon approaches a flock of sheep in the middle of the road. With the sheep is a cloaked shepherd that Lawrence thinks could be the alleged magician, however he becomes less suspicious after this person demonstrates that he or she knows the correct shepherd greeting. After Lawrence introduces himself, the shepherd reveals herself to be a girl, and Horo remains unhappy with how Lawrence is surprised.
First things first: if you’re wondering about episode 07, it’s DVD only. Spice and Wolf is 13 episodes total, 12 of which are to be broadcast on TV. That one unaired episode will be included with the third DVD due out on May 30th, 2008.
As for the episode, it was fairly slow compared to last week’s, and I daresay the second half was even a little boring. Action isn’t everything, but sitting around talking about profits and tariffs isn’t horribly engaging or entertaining either, at least not for me. The first half was a slight bit better in that regard because there was more of a suspense element as Horo was exposing the merchant’s tricks, though I’m probably most interested in the magician rumors. The hints point at it being this new Nora girl they met at the end of the episode, but because they’ve made her out to be so mysterious right from the beginning, I’m inclined to believe that she’s not actually evil or anything. Still, Horo seems not to like her very much, so there might be a lot of tension. In the case of this series though, more tension is not a bad thing.