Horo the Wise Wolf within One Ring

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Horo the Wise Wolf within One Ring

Post by Thrythlind » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:47 am

Horo the Wise Wolf is one of the two main characters of the Japanese Light Novels, Spice and Wolf, as well as the anime adaptations of those. The setting is a low-magic fantasy. For the most part, the only magical entity present is Horo herself and she rarely does anything magical.

She is a spirit of some sort that some time long in the past made a deal with a young human that impressed her to help keep the harvests of the village bountiful (every so often giving a terrible harvest so that she can recharge the Earth) but by this point the village just performs their part of the rituals by rote and no longer actually believe that she exists. Having grown lonely she takes advantage of a ritual not being performed quite right so she can escape and takes up with the other main character of the series, a traveling merchant appearing as a young girl with wolf-ears and a tail.

Horo makes an arrangement with the merchant, Lawrence, where she will use her centuries of wisdom to aid him in his merchant deals in exchange for him escorting her to the north where she hopes to find others of her kind whom she has long found missing. Over the course of the series, Lawrence shows that he is a master merchant (barring a few mistakes here and there where he gambled too much) but Horo demonstrates that she deserves the name of wise and has a broader understanding on the natures of people and the world.

[spoiler=tag]In case you're interested]By the end of season 1 (not sure which novels that encompasses) they fall in love. Season 2 is spent trying to research if a spirit and a human can love each other successfully. Supposedly the novels end with them settling down and having a family together but that hasn't reached the anime yet.[/spoiler]

Horo is very much a Tolkien/Middle Earth style character. Her inherent nature is rather eldritch and spiritual but while she is in mortal form she is essentially mortal. She does have a limited ability to take on the form of a giant wolf, but this seems to require eating a bit of wheat which she at one point states if it is ever all gone then she will fade away, likely becoming fully spirit again...or dying, I am uncertain. As such, she doesn't often use it and mostly relies on her wits and accumulated wisdom.

Now there are some difficulties here.

One is that she is a wolf and most wolf related entities in Middle Earth are evil. That said, the Tolkien legendarium differentiates between wolves and worgs as well as the fallen spirits that take wolf shape that appear in The Fellowship of the Ring when they are attacked in Lindon. Also, while most spirits of fire turned against Eru and sided with Morgoth, some did remain loyal (Gandalf himself is implied to be one such spirit associated with fire).

Another issue is that the society of Spice and Wolf is a far different sort than what appears in Middle Earth. The existence of sentient entities other than humans is rare. There are no Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Hobbits, or other such things. There's Horo and one or two other such spirits in obscure places living quietly for the most part. Horo herself doesn't really know what changed as she had been bound to that one village for centuries, long enough that they came to forget she was real. Society has adapted to the development of merchant guilds and complex economy (in the same vein that Tolkien was an expert linguist, the author of Spice and Wolf is an expert economist and his story is very focused on Lawrence showing his skill as a merchant rather than the normal sort of sword and sorcery you get in fantasy). The population is also a lot denser than Third Age Middle Earth seems to be while also demonstrated a large number of smaller city states united more or less by a single church similar to late Middle Ages Feudal Europe rather than Middle-Earth's society.

If it were just the economic matter, I could see this occurring at some point in the Second Age during Numenor's height of power. But without the threat of something like Angmar or Sauron and the lack of empire akin to Numenor, I'd have to say that if this were the same universe that it was taking place late during the 4th or even 5th age of the world and Horo has pretty much been hanging out in that village enriching crops and missing everything for literal ages. (Tolkien has stated that if Middle Earth WERE the past of our world that we'd be in the 7th Age about now, but there's nothing saying you can't imagine that Horo's world is the same one or that something like Horo could appear within the setting.)

That said, like with individuals such as Beorn, Aragorn and the like, you wouldn't be playing Horo. You might as well play Melian, Gandalf, or some other maiar. But inheritors to Horo might be appropriate. This leaves the question as to what sort of virtues the descendants of Horo and Lawrence might have.

To some degree, I had thought that modeling off of the Beornings might work, but there are a few differences. Horo is very much a sage rather than a warrior, she will fight when she has need, but prefers to avoid such and even once swallows her pride to humble herself before another great wolf whom she refers to as a "rude youngster" in order for her human friends to get to safety.

I'm thinking some sort of virtues for speaking to wolves and being proud or courageous. A virtue related to lore and wisdom. A virtue related to an understanding of growing things and especially farm crops (she was a wheat spirit as well as a wolf spirit after all). Something of virtues of the intersection of the wilds and civilization. Wisdom and lore balanced by high passions and fierce pride. Their particular usual curse would be related to loneliness or pride.

Anyway, just sort of talking here, don't have anything specifically in mind.

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