Act 33: Green Witch
“Gille… umm, thanks for the present.”
Cordelia told Gille, who was walking next to her, on their way to the witch’s house. She had already written that in a letter, but she also wanted to say it to him directly.
“I’m happy that you like it. I’m so relieved.”
“The pen and ink jar are very nice.”
Cordelia felt as if she was going to get embarrassed because Gille looked bashful.
But she couldn’t get swept away by that. She had something she wanted to ask.
“So… If you don’t mind, could you tell me when your birthday is? I asked Vernoux before, but he said he forgot, you know?”
Vernoux-sama told me that he would ask Gille-sama for me, but I don’t trust him with this… or rather, he probably forgot about it. I want to ask him now that we finally have the chance to meet.
Cordelia thought, but Gille froze for a moment.
“Ah, nothing. Sorry. I think something got into my eye…”
“Oh my, that’s horrible. You can’t rub it; you might damage your eyes. Is there anywhere we can wash it out…?”
It might be sand, but it would be terrible if a small bug flew into his eye.
However, Vernoux said, in disgust, as Cordelia looked around.
“Just leave him, Dilly. He’s fine. His tears will make it go out if something really got into his eye.”
“Really…? But it hurts because something’s there, right?”
Those are icy words to say to a friend. However, Gille quickly defended Vernoux as Cordelia stared at him, coldly, “Yeah, I’m really alright.” She wasn’t convinced, but she didn’t say anything else. And unfortunately, she couldn’t find a place where he could wash his eyes right away.
“… Tell me if it starts to hurt, alright?”
“Ok, I’m fine. Anyway, do you want to find out more about aromas at Sensei’s place?”
Cordelia nodded while worrying about Gille, who kept insisting that he was fine.
“Yes. I was wondering if she also knows about water plants.”
Gille tilted his head in confusion and Cordelia nodded while smiling.
The things I want are undoubtedly different from what others want, and, right now, I want ingredients for oblaat. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblaat
I found out about this by chance when I saw Hans taking his medicine, but the oblaat of this world was lightly baked pastry, ――― or rather, it seems they have hard oblaat, and the edible, flexible oblaat invented by doctors in Japan doesn’t exist here. This might be useful if I can make it. At least Hans would be happy about it. She wanted to look for agar, but it seemed that the people of this kingdom didn’t know about agar.
(But there were about 4000 kinds of red algae which were used as ingredients for agar in my previous world. This world has a lot of plants that are similar to the ones that exist in my former world, so it’s not like it doesn’t exist in this world at all.)
And agar is also good for beauty. It would be great if I can make it. Now, will it turn out well?
“It looks like you still want to keep what you’re using it for a secret.”
“Yes. But you can see it when it’s done.”
“Then I’m looking forward to it.”
I want to do my best to surprise this friend who doesn’t force me to answer him, Cordelia laughed a little.
“If it’s a good invention, then you might be able to put it into the big bookcase at the Royal Castle. Do your best.”
“Yeah. It’s a restricted archive in the castle… But you can get a permit to enter if your invention is approved at a competition held by the royal family. It probably has the best book collection in the entire kingdom.”
Gille-sama said probably, but there’s no need to guess that it is. It’s a really fascinating place. On the other hand, she was anxious about that place.
If possible, she didn’t want to get close to the castle. She wanted to avoid the place where she might encounter the prince as much as possible.
However, she couldn’t help but be interested in the library called ‘The Big Bookcase’.
There were a lot of books; a treasure house of knowledge. The things that Cordelia wanted to know might be there.
“Sorry… I just thought that I have to make something that would be approved first.”
That’s right. I should put off thinking about whether or not I want to go to the castle. I don’t really get the aim of the competition, and I won’t be able to present anything if I can’t make it, so there’s no point in thinking about it now. First of all, I should complete my current task.
“Oh. Look, you can see the Witch’s house.”
Vernoux pointed at a house with a red triangular roof and a chimney. There was a small flower bed in front of the house, and it had a wide variety of plants. There were ceramic animal and birds hidden in the gaps of the plants.
“Sensei sells medicine and herbs here. But there’s no signboard, so there’s hardly any first-time customers. Most of the customers are from this neighbour or are introduced here.”
Cordelia followed after Vernoux into the store as she listened to Gille’s explanation.
She heard a woman’s calm voice as soon as she entered the store.
“Oh my, welcome. I have some cute customers.”
The owner of the voice was a middle-aged woman with green eyes, and she wore an apron. Her hair was tied up Yes, I know the image is different… and was covered with a bandana. Her aura was gentle like her voice.
“It’s been a long time.”
“Hello Gille-kun, Vernoux-kun. And this girl must be Dilly-chan whom you two told me about.”
She approached Cordelia with a gentle smile and widened her eyes.
But, that was only for a second. The action was so short that Cordelia thought she might have been seeing things.
The woman slowly bent down as if nothing had happened.
“Nice to meet you. I’m a pharmacist, and people around here call me 『Green Witch』. Can I call you Dilly-chan?”
“Yes. Nice to meet you. Can I… call you Sensei?”
“Fufu, you can.”
The Witch smile wider when Cordelia asked that.
“Thank you for taking the aloe vera. I was surprised when I heard from Gille-kun that you could probably grow it. How is that child?”
Cordelia smiled and nodded at the Witch, who called the aloe vera 『that child』. The aloe vera that she had been given was a very important plant to the Witch.
“It’s growing very well. I brought this with me.”
“Aloe vera gel. I made it into a moisturiser.”
Aloe vera, which is also said to have been often used by Cleopatra, has a lot of uses; from applying it on burns and rashes to moisturising. This time Cordelia brought gel she had collected from the leaves and simmered. It could last for a month if it were kept in a cool place, so she packed it in a magic container which held a cooling effect, even though it was a bit pricey, because she didn’t know if the Witch would have a cool place to store it.
The Witch looked surprised when she picked it up.
“I heard it from these two… but you really love herbs, don’t you Dilly-chan? Do you mind if I try it right now?”
“Yes, please do. It will moisturise your skin.”
The Witch smiled back at Cordelia, and this time she spoke to Ronnie, who looked bored.
“So, you’re… Dilly’s Onii-san?”
“Yes, something like that. Sorry to bother you.”
“Not at all. I’m sure you’re worried about her because she’s so cute.”
Ronnie smiled wryly, and the Witch returned it with a similar expression, then she clapped.
“I would like to talk more, but I want Vernoux-kun and Gille-kun to show me the homework I gave them last time. Dilly-chan and Onii-san, please wait for a bit. You can look around while you wait.”
Then, the Witch turned to Gille and Vernoux.
Cordelia was told that she could look around, so she didn’t hesitate to do just that.
There was a counter near the entrance, but it looked like decoration, and there wasn’t a cash register on it for money exchange; on top of the counter was a basket decorated with dry flowers. Also, half of the shop was covered in shelves and bookshelves, and bottles filled with herbs were tightly lined up on the shelves. The other half of the shop had two large tables on it. On one side of the table was a vase and on the other, a mortar and scales. The window next to the table had lace curtains so that light wouldn’t come in, and herbs were hanging on beams on the side.
(Somehow, it’s a really soothing place.)
It’s my first time here, but it makes me feel at ease. It’s completely different from my laboratory, but I realise that I love places which have plants and books.
She thought as she approached shelves with bottles on them and saw that there were dried plants in the bottles.
She was surprised by what she saw.
“This is lavender, and this one is rosemary.”
Never mind lavender, rosemary shouldn’t be available near the Royal Capital. She concentrated magic into her eyes and saw that it was in excellent condition and was of high quality.
(She is someone who got her hands on aloe vera. It shouldn’t be surprising, but for some reason it is.)
At the same time, Cordelia was happy. I’ve met an amazing person.
She controlled the smile that naturally appeared on her face as she looked at the bottles next to the lavender and rosemary.
“Huh? What is this bright madder red leaf…?”
“Oh, these are tirani leaves. If you boil it and drink it, then you can relieve throat irritations… Hold on, Ojou… Dilly, you don’t know about this plant? Well, it’s not a grass that grows in the forest a lot.”
Cordelia looked up at Ronnie, who was now standing next to her.
“Tirani… I’ve heard of the name. But it’s my first time seeing it. If I remember correctly, it can’t be grown in the north because it succumbs to frost, right?”
“Yes. I heard that there used to be a lot in the mountains, but now it’s better to grow it yourself if you want it. It’s not expensive to buy.”
“Oh my, is that so?”
She confirmed that it was the tirani she read about in books and looked at the bottle next to it. There was a green plant in there that looked like marimo; the difference was that there was no water in the bottle.
“It’s thika. If you dissolve it in water, then it becomes a hangover cure. It’s has a really strong taste.”
“That sounds familiar. If I remember correctly, it grows under trees because it’s weak against rain… right?”
“Yes, that’s right. Well, sometimes it doesn’t grow well under trees either, so people grow them in cabins if they want to use it for business purposes.”
Cordelia was stunned when she heard Ronnie’s explanation.
“Perhaps, are these two herbs well-known?”
These plants were quite different from the ones Cordelia were usually interested in, so she never thought of using them or researching about them, but she did know their names from books. It was also her first time seeing them. But from what she’d just heard, it was effortless to obtain… In other words, they were common plants in this world.
“Yes. At least, they’re so well-known that they can’t be compared to rosemary or lavender. For instance… it might be a little different, but the difference is like if I was a minor rosemary and the King and Prince are thika.”
When Ronnie said that, a loud choking sound came from the desk.
“Hey, Gille. Are you okay?”
Vernoux spoke to Gille, who had choked, but he sounded as if he was holding back his laughter instead of worrying over Gille.
What are you laughing about when your friend is suffering…? She thought, but Gille had stopped coughing straight away, so Cordelia didn’t say anything to him. She was worried about him feeling unwell, but if nothing was wrong, then she was more interested in the flowers on the shelves.
“This is… thyme… liquorice root?”
The thyme was planted in a small pot, so she knew what it was straight away, and the liquorice was labelled. She didn’t search for them because they didn’t fall into her goal of 『making essential oils』, but she knew a lot about them.
In her previous life, liquorice was one of the most beloved plants since ancient times. Sweet liquorice beverages were extremely popular in ancient Egypt and soldiers in ancient Rome ate it to build stamina. Also, the syrup is effective against bronchitis.
On the other hand, thyme is a traditional herb that was used to make mummies because of its antibacterial properties. Nonetheless, Cordelia didn’t plan on making any mummies. But she could use it to make tinctures and use that to take care of the areas around her teeth.
(Thyme also smells good if you burn the twigs.)
I want it. I wonder if she’ll give me some seeds.
She thought as she moved to the shelf at the back; a plant on that shelf made her want to raise her voice in surprise.
“Is this wine pickled hyssop?”
“… You surprised me again. You really love herbs more than I thought you would.”
Cordelia nodded at the Witch, who had left Vernoux and Gille and approached her.
“I studied about them in books.”
“Even so, you’re amazing. I mean, you wouldn’t be able to read detailed information about herbs unless you read specialty books, right?”
The Witch said, and Cordelia brushed it off by laughing a little. There’s no way I can tell her that ‘it’s knowledge from my previous life’.
“But, it’s such a waste. It’s too bad that you don’t get many opportunities to see universal herbs, even though you know so much about them.”
The 『universal herbs』that the Witch is talking about is probably the tirani and thika. It might certainly be a waste.
(… I was born into the Pameradia House, whose magic powers are compatible with plants. So, I should learn more about universal herbs, right?)
They probably didn’t teach her at home because her interests pointed in a different direction. It wasn’t necessary for nobles to learn about this, unlike cultural based education with subjects such as history, politics, current affairs, dance and mannerisms. So, if she were interested in plants for another reason, then she would probably have to make time to learn about it.
Cordelia thought, as the Witch took a book from the shelf and gave it to her.
“You might like this book. Tirani and thika are useful if you blend them with plants that have a good affinity with them. Do you want to be a pharmacist or something relating to it in the future?”
“Huh? I’ve never thought about becoming a pharmacist.”
“Oh? Then why are you interested in herbs?”
“Because… I’m researching essential oils. I love aromas… but I also want to learn about other things, so I came here today,” said Cordelia.
The Witch widened her eyes, but she immediately cast her eyes down and smiled.
“That’s wonderful. Do you want to study with Vernoux-kun and Gille-kun?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Knowledge from my previous life and magic from this world.
I’ve always been thinking about combining them. But I might be able to extend it even more if I mix it with herbs which are unique to this world.
(I haven’t thought about it… But 『pharmacist』sounds good.)
I don’t know how much knowledge I can absorb, but if I can understand bits and pieces, then I want to learn what I can. If I can gain knowledge that I haven’t been able to find before, then I can’t miss this chance.
“It makes me happy if my knowledge is useful to you all. Now, let’s start with the book I just gave you. If you don’t understand anything, then you can always ask me.”
The Witch prompted, and Cordelia carried the book to the large desk where Gille and Vernoux were. She sat down, opened the book… and met Gille’s eyes.
“Nothing… I just think you’re both alike.”
“The way Sensei and Dilly laugh. You look alike.”
“… Do we?”
“Yeah. I wonder what it is. Your eyes are similar.”
Cordelia had never seen her smile before, so she imagine what it looked like, and she couldn’t understand what he meant by ‘your eyes are similar’ because red and green eyes are completely different.
Cordelia secretly looked at the Witch to confirm it. But unfortunately, she couldn’t tell if they were similar or not. But their eyes met while Cordelia was staring at her. The Witch smiled gently. Cordelia was drawn by her smile and also smiled. Then, she looked at Gille again and muttered.
I don’t know if we’re alike, but I’ll be happy if we are. I can’t help but feel pleased if I give off a gentle impression like her. But it was really embarrassing, so she immediately averted her gaze from Gille.
And, she looked at the Witch’s profile again as if brushing it off and tilted her head.
Why do I feel déjà vu?
For a moment there, I felt like she resembled someone that wasn’t me. She blinked and looked at the Witch again.
(… Is it just my imagination?)
If I think about it, I don’t know her or any woman her age. But even so, where did I get that impression from? In the end, nothing came to mind, so she decided that it was just her imagination; since she was more interested in the book, she was holding.