“I have, just once when she was a child. She was quite skilled. Her father is said to have made quite a few medical incenses, but she actually made half of those.”
I widened my eyes in surprise. Saido was good at making medical incenses.
He was so good at making them that people from across the ocean came to buy them.
“The authenticity of the incense would be questioned if people knew that it was made by a child. However, the effects of the incenses were so good, and would save people, so the father pretended that he was the person who made them. He said that he would announce the truth when his daughter grew up and let her openly make incenses as the first female perfumer of this kingdom.”
If I were to believe what Kansou said, then that meant that Riri was originally able to make incenses.
I contemplated on what this could mean, and then a thought occurred to me.
I wondered if Riri couldn’t make her own incenses because of the effects of the treasured incense.
When the treasured incense erased her memory, it might have caused some side effects that prevented her from doing what she used to be able to do.
If so, then she might be able to create her own incenses if she could get her memories back.
“… I see. If that girl can become a perfumer, then she can help those suffering from illness and injuries in this kingdom.”
I muttered and Kansou smiled slightly.
“I believe so. It’s difficult for women to become perfumers now, but I’m sure you’ll aim to create a better kingdom when you become emperor. I sincerely hope that you will make the right decision for the sake of your people.”
Kansou bowed his head, then he looked up and cast a searching gaze in my direction.
“There is one more thing that I would like to ask you. You previously asked me to prepare materials and tools that I thought were necessary for making the treasured incense, but the person who is using those things is Riri, isn’t it?”
His stare was piercing. I shrugged my shoulders without changing my expression in the slightest.
“What makes you think that?”
“I heard that Riri couldn’t make the treasured incense for the perfumers meetings, but she said that she was a step closer to success. So, I concluded that she is the person who is using the materials and tools that I had prepared… Kousho-sama, is she still secretly making the treasured incense in Beautiful Flower Palace?”
It had been announced to the public that Riri had given up on making the treasured incense even though she had announced that at the perfumers meeting. When I didn’t reply because I wanted to keep it a secret that she was still making the treasured incense in secret, Kansou had an expression that stated he understood. Then he continued.
“I believe Riri may be able to complete the treasured incense, but it would be difficult for her to do so now.”
Kansou held out the white package again when I remained silent.
“I used to assist her father, Saido-sama, so I know that he used the treasured incense to erase her memory. Riri was the one who made this incense. Riri might be able to regain her past memories if she smells an incense she made in the past since she has a keen sense of smell. I’m sure you believe this too.”
I couldn’t help but smile when I heard Kansou’s words.
He misunderstood that I was trying to get Riri’s memories back for the treasured incense.
I do want the treasured incense, but there’s something I want even more than that.
“… Don’t tell anyone about what we just talked about.”
“I won’t. I also dream of completing the treasured incense as a perfumer. It would be ideal if I can make it myself, but I know I’m not capable of doing so. If anyone is capable of making the treasured incense after Saido-sama’s death, then it would be Riri. I would like to help her from the shadows, so that she can complete the treasured incense.”
I can expect Riri to complete the treasured incense since the meritocratic Kansou said that.
I received the white package from him.
“We will complete the treasured incense for the sake of our kingdom.”
I said strongly, and he smiled happily.
If I can get Riri’s memories back, then she will remember how to make the treasured incense and how she met me.
However, I also knew that it might be difficult to get Riri’s memories back with this incense alone.
In addition, the beauty pageant is going on right now and the situation is rocky. After everything is over, I’m planning on settling everything, then bringing Riri’s memories back.
I held the white package I received from Kansou up to my nose. The sweet, powdery scent was the same as the incense I had received from Riri when we were small. This scent forced me to remember her.
I’m being cold to her right now because of certain reasons.
She looked at me in surprise when I said terrible things to her.
I couldn’t help but feel a sharp pain in my heart as soon as I saw that expression on her face.
I wanted to clear up the misunderstanding but now wasn’t the time. I will try to get closer to Riri when everything’s over. I thought to myself as I clutched the white package.
Riri had returned to the Beautiful Flower Palace. She sighed softly as she walked back to her room.
“Garan told me to rest tonight since he’ll find a place for me to practice, but I’ll start practicing tomorrow with Seirai-sama. I’m nervous… Huh?”
She could faintly smell Kousho. His scent seemed to be coming from around the corner.
He had suddenly acted cold to her yesterday, but she believed that there was a reason for his sudden change in attitude.
If he did have a reason for acting that way, then she wanted to hear why.
The only scent present belonged to Kousho. He hadn’t been interested in the inner palace at all until now, but recently he has been taking the consorts with him on walks, but he was probably alone now.
Therefore, she believed he would tell her what he was really thinking. She lifted the hem of her hanfu and walked quickly down the corridor.
Kousho was standing in the garden at the end of the corridor, and there was a path there that led to the rear garden.
He liked the rear garden, so she figured he must be on his way there.
She called out to him to stop him. His scent was a mixture of sandalwood-based incense mixed with his own scent. The smell was strong, yet it was a virtuous scent that allowed one to feel his dignity as a Crown Prince.
But apart from those scents, there was a slightly different scent mixed in.
“What are you doing?”
She heard Kousho’s voice when she stopped to think about the scent. She looked up at him and saw that he was looking at her with his arms folded.
She suddenly remembered the time when he gave her the cold shoulder and put her guard up.
“The sun is about to set. Go back to your room.”
His voice was softer than it was the other day.
She blinked her eyes in confusion.
(He’s alone today. Oh yeah, there were other consorts around when he gave me the cold shoulder.)
She was about to ask him if the consorts being around had to do with the fact that he was treating her coldly, but the unusual scent coming from him bothered her. It smelled sweet and powdery, and an image of a small butterfly resting on a yellow dandelion flashed through her mind. It was a lovely and comforting image.
And yet, her chest was buzzing and restless.
(What’s wrong with me? It smells good, but I’m getting a headache. Why…)
She raised her eyebrow and Kousho tilted his head.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t even greet you. How do you do, Kousho-sama? Um, this scent is…”
She was about to ask him about his cold attitude, but she couldn’t help but notice the other scent that was drifting from him, so she asked him a different question.
“… What about it?”
His voice sounded as if he was questioning her. She looked at the small cloth that he had in his right hand. The scent was coming from there.
“This scent… is different from your usual scent. What kind of scent is that? I feel like I know it.”
She felt as if her head was covered with fog, and she couldn’t make it out clearly. The more she thought about it, the worse her headache got. She was familiar with this headache; it was the same kind of headache that she often got when she tried to remember her father.
Kousho looked at his hand and was thinking about something.
“The incense was made by Kansou from the Ministry of Incense. Would you like to smell it?”
He suddenly asked and she nodded.
“If it’s possible. I have the same headache that I often get when I try to remember Father, so I might have smelled this scent before in the past. I might be able to find a lead on how to make the treasured incense if I remember something about my past.”
She stared at the cloth bag. Kousho looked at her and softly smiled.
“This incense is very expensive and special. I was going to burn it at a special event. I’ll invite you to join me, so wait until then.”
She couldn’t insist on smelling it. He told her he would invite her to join him when he burnt the incense, so she can only wait until then.
After she replied, Kousho put the cloth bag into his pocket.
“I heard that you did well when you showed Seirai around.”
“Yes. I was extremely careful, so that I wouldn’t upset him.”
His voice sounded slightly warmer. She could smell some of the emotions he was feeling thanks to her super olfaction. When he was acting cold to her, she could smell the scent that he produced when he was on his guard.
However, the scent that he was emitting now was the same relaxing scent that he used when interacting with those close to him. He really wasn’t going to be cold towards her when they are alone.
“I heard from Garan that Seirai is going to teach you how to dance.”
“Yes. Seirai-sama told me that he’s an excellent dancer… Kousho-sama, you wanted me to refuse to be the Empress and join the Four Consorts to buy you time, correct?”
Kousho widened his eyes slightly and turned his head a little.
“I also want my own palace, so I’ll want to become one of the Four Consorts somehow, but I have no experience with dancing, so it’s hopeless for me to hope to join the Four Consorts as I am now. However, if Seirai-sama can teach me, then I might have a small chance of becoming one.”
She smiled and Kousho nodded slightly while looking down.
“You’re right. Good luck. I’ll be troubled if you don’t become one.”
Kousho turned his back towards Riri and waved his hand slightly.
“Bye, it’s getting dark so hurry back to your room.”
She stared as he walked away and was taken aback.
“I wanted to ask him why he’s acting cold towards me…”
She was so curious about the scent that it occupied her mind.
More importantly, she didn’t know how to ask him about this, so she ended up not asking him something crucial. It was a shame, but she was delighted to be able to talk with him after so long.