So I started book 3 of Rune Soldier last night, and I think the parts I read last night neatly sum up the difference in character between book Louie and anime Louie.
It opens with a restless Louie throwing off his covers. Summer has arrived with a vengeance after their previous adventure with the weather-control device, and it’s just too darn hot and muggy for him to sleep. So, he puts on his street clothes and heads out for an evening of fun in the entertainment district. After a few hours of pub-crawling, he’s nicely drunk and headed for home, when he happens to look into an alley and see two suspicious-looking punks harassing a 13-year-old girl whose high-class clothing suggests she has no business in this neighborhood, especially in the middle of the night. He butts in.
They vaguely recognize him as “that guy” from various places in the district, and he in turn can tell that they’re low-level members of the Thieves Guild. But Louie doesn’t want to get into more trouble with the Guild by beating the crap out of them, so he name-drops Merrill and identifies himself as one of her partners. They were willing to fight a drunken tavern brawler for their prize, but an experienced adventurer with ties to an established Guild member is a bit much, so they slink off.
The girl naively complains that her new friends were about to help her find lodging and a job, and as Louie leads her out of the entertainment district, he gives her a carefully sanitized explanation of what her “friends” meant by that. Recognizing that she won’t be safe on her own, and knowing that the only lodging houses open at this time of night are no safer than the alley, he takes her back to the Mage College, wakes up Ila, and asks her to take the girl in for the night.
He’s quite surprised when Ila calls her by name, recognizing her as the daughter of one of the richest and most powerful merchants in the country, in fact her own father’s primary rival. Gentle questioning gets young Muriel to confess that she’s running away from home to escape an arranged marriage. She had been reluctantly willing to abide by her father’s decision, until she went to the temple of Mylee and consulted one of the priestesses…
Yes, Melissa is the one causing trouble this time, and Louie staggers off to his own room in a daze, waking up the next morning to find a dagger at his throat, in the hand of a very angry Merrill. Not the least bit surprised by this after having used her name to influence Thieves Guild members, he casually greets her and explains the situation. She quickly calms down, and agrees that they need to go see Melissa and get this straightened out fast. As he gets dressed, they banter quite companiably, with Louie responding to her obvious envy of rich families by offering to introduce her to Carwes, who always wanted to adopt a daughter. She quips back that she couldn’t handle having a blockhead step-brother like him, and he admits that he’d be too worried about getting his throat slit to ever fall asleep around a little sister like her. Unspoken, they both know that she values her independence too much to ever be anyone’s dependent.
Louie is naked for most of this conversation, and Merrill makes no effort to turn away. She’s not ogling, but she’s paying enough attention to comment on how he seems even bigger and more muscular than when they met, which he credits to his daily solo sword practice. She suggests that if he has enough free time for that, he should spend it working on his magic and leave the fighting to them. He refuses, both for his own goals and for Melissa’s expectations of a hero. He wants to be a proper Rune Soldier, expert in both combat and magic, something that hasn’t been seen for a long time.