The medicinal garden in the palace in Shinzui was home to a variety of plants.
Looking at the flowers, Riri couldn’t help but gasp in admiration at their beauty and sweet fragrance.
“It smells good. I wish I could take my time to enjoy their fragrances, but I don’t have much time. I have to hurry and find what I want.”
She usually wasn’t allowed to leave the inner palace, since she was a talented person in the Beautiful Flower Palace which belonged to the Crown Prince of Shinzui, Kousho. However, she told Kousho that she needed to come here because of some special circumstances, and was allowed to come for a short time, provided that she was accompanied by an escort.
She turned her attention to the guard at the entrance of the garden, Garan. He was a General who commanded the Shinzui army.
He had short black hair and black eyes. He carried a long spear on his back and his strong body was covered in armour.
Although he was still young, in his early twenties, he was a skilled warrior who was trusted by Kousho and his men.
He often had a stern expression on his face due to his work, which made him look scary, but he looked very gentle when he smiled. She trusted him more than anyone else and he was a friend who she could talk to about anything. She looked around and focused her attention on her nose while thinking that she would be safe even if something happened to her as long as he was guarding her.
(There are so many fragrances in the air, but where is the scent I’m looking for?)
Her appearance was ordinary, and although she was born as a noble, she grew up downtown due to certain circumstances, so her status wasn’t very high right now.
The only thing she could boast about was her super olfaction. She believed that her super olfaction, which could distinguish between people’s emotions and even smell if someone was sick, would be able to detect the fragrance that she was looking for. She closed her eyes and concentrated. Then, she smelled a faint sweet and sour scent. She opened her eyes and moved towards the scent.
“I found it. This is daphne odora!”
There was a shrub with small white flowers blooming randomly on the east side of the medicinal garden. She crouched down in front of the shrub and inhaled the fragrance. She was happy that she had finally found it, but then she suddenly frowned.
“Huh… this fragrance… Is a little different from what I was expecting.”
She closed her eyes and concentrated on the scent again.
“Hmm. I don’t think this is the same fragrance that Father used to make the treasured incense. But it’s very similar. What’s the difference…?”
The treasured incense was a phantom incense that has been passed down in Shinzui. It was said that it was a powerful incense that could repel even the strongest enemy. However, the method of making it was unknown and no one had perfected it yet, even in Shinzui where incenses are very popular.
Her father, the previous head of the Ministry of Incense, had succeeded in making that legendary incense.
But the world believed that her father had failed to make the treasured incense because of a certain incident.
One of her dreams was to prove that he had created the treasured incense to restore his honour.
People told her that she had been there when her father had made the treasured incense, but she couldn’t remember that time well.
Her father had used the treasured incense that he had made to seal her memories of that time, but her nose, which had a special sense of smell, remembered the fragrances that her father had used to make the treasured incense. If she could use her olfaction as a clue to create the treasured incense, then she would be able to prove that her father had indeed perfected the treasured incense.
Garan walked up to her and said, “What’s wrong? You don’t look happy. It’s an open secret between the palace perfumers that daphne odora’s fragrant wood is used to make the treasured incense. That’s why I told you, but was this wrong?”
“I came here to check it out because you told me about it, but something’s different. I remember smelling something that was similar to this fragrance, but…”
She looked around and saw that there were two kinds of daphne odora. There was a shrub with peach-colour flowers a little further away.
(It seems there’s two kinds of daphne odora: one that blooms peach-coloured flowers and the other blooms white flowers… Ah!)
She felt a light flash in her mind, and the light illuminated a scene.
“I think the daphne odoras I saw before were blue.”
“Blue daphne odoras? I’ve never seen them before. Usually, they’re peach-coloured or white.”
There weren’t any blue daphne odoras in this medicinal garden.
“But blue daphne odora flowers popped into my head. I can’t remember anything apart from that, but…!”
She tried her best to tell him what had popped up in her mind and walked closer to him in excitement.
When she was close enough to feel his breath, he widened his eyes in surprise.
“Stop, stop! Just stop!”
Riri widened her eyes as he backed away as fast as he could. She has been excited about incenses and approached him like this many times in the past, but this was the first time he had acted like this.
“I’m sorry. I….”
She reflected on her bad manners, and Garan quickly waved his hands in the air.
“No! It’s not your fault. There’s a problem with my emotions.”
She tilted her head in confusion since she didn’t know what he meant by emotions, then remembered that Garan had been acting a little strange lately.
Lately, she could smell that he was nervous whenever she spoke to him.
(He’s talking to me like he always does, but the scent of his sweat makes it seem like he has a hard time talking to me. Did I do something wrong?)
Garan took a deep breath to calm down. His face was red.
“Garan, what did I do? I’d like to apologise if I did anything to offend you.”
“You didn’t do anything. I might be a little weird right now. I’ll do something about it, so please leave me alone for a bit… I’ll look into the matter with the blue daphne odora. I’ve never seen them in Shinzui, but they might exist elsewhere. Now, it’s time to go back.”
Garan turned his back towards her and started walking. He might hate her if she kept asking him what was wrong since he asked her to leave him alone. She managed to suppress her desire to question Garan and followed after him.