Spice & Wolf, Vol. 4 | Chapter 30 of 39

Author: Isuna Hasekura | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1623 Views | Add a Review

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“I’ve thought of that. I don’t think that can help us.”

“So there is no way to make them believe, then.”

“Short of a miracle, I don’t think so.” Lawrence paused, then said it again, “Short of a miracle…”

“What is it?”

Lawrence’s eyes moved to and fro, trying to connect the thoughts that filled his mind.

He had considered that Holo would be able to distinguish poison wheat from good. What had stopped him short was how to convince others of the wheat’s purity—or lack thereof.

Somewhere, he had heard of a similar story.

But where?

He flipped through his memories rapidly.

What finally emerged was an image of Elsa and her church.

“That’s right…a miracle…”

“Mm.”

“What do you think is the single best way for the Church to increase its followers?”

Holo made a face as though she had been made fun of. “Producing a miracle?”

“Quite. But a miracle’s fruit is always half-seed. They are not what they seem.”

Now it was Holo whose gaze darted to and fro as she chased her own frantic thoughts.

“So it would need to be something that the eye can see…,” she said thoughtfully. “Indeed. You—give me my wheat.”

Lawrence pointed at the bags he had dropped when Holo had pushed him over.

“Then reach out and fetch it for me.” Evidently she had no intention of moving from her place on his lap.

Realizing that quibbling would be pointless, Lawrence twisted around as he was told, reaching out and grabbing the sack in question, then pulling it closer to extract the pouch of wheat from within—the pouch of wheat in which Holo dwelled.

“Here,” said Lawrence.

“Mm. Now watch closely.”

She took a grain of wheat from the pouch, and placing it in the palm of her hand, she took a deep breath.

The next moment—

“Wha—!”

Before Lawrence’s eyes the grain quivered minutely, then cracked, sending a green shoot straight up, which lengthened into a white stem as it pushed skyward, its green leaves expanding outward.

Soon a new ear of wheat appeared, sagging as it ripened and the once–green wheat stalk turned golden brown.

The process had taken but a moment.

“That is about as far as it goes, and I cannot do many at once. Also”—Holo held the wheat stalk that she had grown, tickling Lawrence’s nose with the top of the wheat ear—“as you can see, this miracle, too, has seeds within it.”

“If I were to laugh, it would hardly sound natural.”

Holo frowned and thrust the stalk at Lawrence. “Well? This is all I can do that is visible to the eye. Well, this and assuming my wolf form.”

“No, this will be quite enough,” said Lawrence. He took the wheat from Holo’s hand and continued. “All that remains is to see if Elsa will accept this trick. Also—”

“Is there more?”

Lawrence nodded. “Still…,” he muttered, shaking his head. “Then it will be time to show my skill as a merchant.”

Even showing beyond all doubt which of the wheat returned by Enberch was poisonous and which was safe would not instantly deliver Tereo from the danger it faced.

By Sem’s estimate, the funds they would owe Tereo would come to around seventy limar. Without addressing that shortfall, the villagers could still be devoured by Enberch.

Even if Enberch had poisoned the wheat to seize control of Tereo, even if the townspeople recognized Holo’s miracle, and even if they accepted her judgment on the good wheat and the bad, they would still not buy back the wheat they had returned.

This meant that wheat would still need to be turned to cash somehow.

If it came to that point, this fell within the purview of a merchant.

And Lawrence was a merchant.

“Right. Let us return,” said Lawrence.

“Hmph. And here sit I, freezing my tail off.”

Holo stood, blocking Lawrence’s vision with a quick swish of her tail—and in that instant, she was a wolf again.

“You seem disappointed,” she said with a grin of bared teeth.

Lawrence shrugged. “You seem happy.”

They caught up with Elsa and Evan very quickly.

It was midday when the group arrived in Tereo.

Elsa had been unexpectedly quick to accept Lawrence’s proposal.

Perhaps she had understood that without a plan, her resolve alone would not be enough to save the village.

Even a day earlier, she would have been unable to make such a decision.

“I still believe in my God—the God who is supreme among gods and creator of all,” she said firmly, standing before Holo’s wolf form—a form she had seen for the first time just hours earlier.

She displayed no fear in the face of a being that could swallow her in one bite or rip her to shreds with a wave of its paw.

Holo glared at Elsa wordlessly, showing her rows of sharp teeth.

Evan swallowed and looked on, but Holo knew the world well enough to understand that she did not stand at its peak.

She soon closed her terrible jaws and turned away indignantly.

“Now we must determine just how we will show this to the villagers.”

“Have you any ideas?”

They were gathered at the peak of a hill outside Tereo, near Evan’s millhouse. Holo stood watch.

“No matter the product, purchasing it at the source yields the greatest gain,” said Lawrence.

“So, once the village has been cornered—?” asked Evan.

Lawrence nodded.

Evan continued. “Based on what we saw this morning, it looks like Bishop Van has come as well.”

“Bishop Van, eh?”

The bishop’s arrival meant that Enberch planned to corner Tereo both financially and religiously, but it also meant that there might be an opportunity to turn the situation around—a situation that earlier in the morning had seemed utterly hopeless.

It was even better, in fact, if the Church leader of Enberch was present.

No one was more qualified to witness a miracle than Bishop Van, after all.

“The group from Enberch brought spearmen with them—they will have no patience for any objections from Tereo. I highly doubt the negotiations will happen in a civilized fashion,” said Lawrence.

“I do not think Elder Sem will incite the villagers to take up arms, either,” said Elsa.

“Not that the villagers would have courage enough to do that anyway,” added Evan. His criticism was not inaccurate.

Given all that, the best time for Lawrence and company to make their appearance was clear.

“Then we should go in after Sem has bowed to Enberch’s demands,” said Elsa.

“The miracle will happen as I’ve just explained,” said Lawrence.

Elsa nodded, looking at Evan. “Evan, will you be all right?”

She referred to the task that had fallen to him.

More than anyone else’s, his life was at risk.

And more than anyone else, he had to trust Holo.

He looked at Holo. “Why, it’s nothing—if I should eat the poisoned wheat, you have but to kill me before I die of the poison.” His fingers trembled slightly.

He had no doubt said this to appear strong before Elsa, but Holo did not fault him for that.

“I shall swallow you in a single bite. It won’t hurt a bit,” she answered gleefully.

“Then once we’ve produced this miracle, we’ll leave the financial dealings to you, Mr. Lawrence,” said Elsa.

“Obviously we hope they will simply take the wheat back on the spot, but yes—I’ll handle it.”

Elsa nodded and put her hands together. “May God’s blessing go with us.”

Holo then spoke quietly.

“They have come.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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