Translator: Blushy
Editor: delishnoodles

Normally, Mokuren and the Dark Perfumers wouldn’t be able to easily enter a heavily guarded palace. 

But what if Rarai will help them sneak into the palace? 

(I should probably tell Kousho-sama about Rarai-sama.)

She thought about telling Kousho many times, but she had only smelled Rarai’s scent at Mokuren’s hiding place, she didn’t see the person to confirm that he was Rarai. Kousho would be in a sticky situation if she told him about Rarai and he arrested him without being able to prove that he and Mokuren were connected. 

(I thought this when the palace was going to be divided into two, but Rarai-sama seems to be very good at controlling people. It seems that there are people in the army who would rather listen to Garan-sama than Garan. If we give him a reason to criticise Kousho-sama, then it might cause a commotion that would divide the palace.)

She knew she had to be careful. They had all been busy preparing for the Elegant Incense Gathering, and she couldn’t bring herself to tell him. A voice suddenly called out to her while she was pondering. 

“What’s wrong, Riri?”

She turned around and saw Garan standing behind her. He was also in charge of the security for the banquet. He came to check up on her. 

“It’s almost time for the guests to enter the hall. Are the incenses alright?”

“They are… Garan, can I discuss something with you?”

She couldn’t stay silent if Rarai had done something to the banquet. 

She boldly asked and Garan frowned. 

“What is it?”

“I couldn’t say this before since it was something I had smelled with my olfaction but…”

She told him about what had happened at Mokuren’s hiding place. She didn’t believe this was something she could solve herself.

Garan put a hand on his chin when she finished. 

“Rarai…? It’s possible that he would team up with Mokuren to bring Shinzui to ruin.”

Her eyes widened when Garan said that. 

“He tried to frame you before, right? Could that be his reason for doing all this?”

“Yeah. Three years ago, a man said he had evidence that I had done something illegal. No one believed me no matter what I said, and I was thrown into jail. I could have been executed, but Kousho-sama proved that I was innocent. I was released thanks to him.”

Garan looked at Rarai and sighed. 

“When the man who had said this was arrested, he confessed that he did it because Rarai told him to, but Rarai kept insisting that he hadn’t done anything like that. We investigated this matter, but we couldn’t find any evidence that Rarai had instigated him. He was supposed to be appointed as the general, and there were many people in the military who supported him, so they all matched up their stories and covered for him.”

“What?! Wait, was Rarai really supposed to be the general?”

She heard from Kousho that Garan and Rarai had been competing for the position. 

But she never heard that Rarai was supposed to be a general.

“The previous general two generations ago was his father, but he died with honour after fighting rebels who attacked the Emperor. Rarai was still young back then, so my father, his father’s younger brother, succeeded him as general. He was supposed to take over the title when he became an adult.”

Garan folded his arms and looked at Rarai, who was standing by the wall.

“But he always tried to manipulate people with money and other things. Many people still support him in the military because of the many favours he has done for them. My father doesn’t like that, so he made me succeed him as general.”

Riri believed that was something Rarai would do. 

She shuddered when she thought about what he would have done if he had become the ‘Phoenix’ who protected the Emperor. 

“Rarai hates me. My father nominated me as the general when I had just joined the military, and I believe that he has held a grudge against me ever since and has been trying to bring me down.”

Garan looked bitter. He went through a lot to reach his current position. It hurt her to think about the hardships he had to endure.


She muttered and he smiled bitterly. 

“Don’t look at me like that. I’m happy that I’m the general. I take pride in protecting Shinzui, and most importantly… I met you.”

Garan’s smiling face was so dazzling that she had to look down. 

“Ah… Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring this up… Anyway, Rarai hates me, so it’s possible that he teamed up with Mokuren. Rarai’s hobby is to make incenses, and he must have been in contact with Mokuren when he was the head of the Ministry of Incenses. They have common ground.”

Garan’s expression stiffened. 

“But we can’t hold him just because you said you smelled his scent at the place where Mokuren was hiding. It would be problematic to have people question why you were there in the first place.”

She thought that as well. She nodded and Garan looked at her. 

“Rarai is cunning. He will quickly deflect and escape if we don’t have concrete evidence… I’ll keep an eye on him at the banquet. He may look like a feeble man, but his swordsmanship is top-notch. I don’t even know if I’m a match for him, but I will die trying to stop him if I see him trying something.”

She heard that Garan was a spear master and that no one could beat him in the army. 

She was surprised that Rarai was strong enough for him to say that. 

“It’s not safe for you to face him alone.”

“I’ll be fine. Don’t tell others about this without proof. Have you told Kousho-sama about this?”

“Not yet. I didn’t tell him since I only had what I smelled at that time as proof.”

“Good. I’ll find the proof. Leave it to me.”

Garan turned away while smiling.



A gorgeous dance started accompanied with the sounds of the erhu and drums. 

On a stage built at the back of the hall, about ten consorts, including Ranran, were performing a bewitching dance. 

Riri lit the incense burner while watching them dance from a corner of the hall. 

Over two hundred guests had been invited to the banquet. They were all well-dressed, and many of them had silver hair, light brown hair, green or blue eyes or other exotic features unlike the black-haired and black-eyed people from Shinzui. 

Kousho, the organiser of the Elegant Incense Gathering, was busy entertaining guests. The consorts from Beautiful Flower Palace were in long hanfus and were walking around serving food and drinks and taking care of the guests. 

The consorts who weren’t in the hall were helping out with the dance and music.

The banquet, which began in the evening, was in full swing by the time the stars coloured the night sky. 

She smelled the smoke rising from the incense burners to confirm their fragrance while looking at the stage and the guests. 

(I’ll burn a strong fragrance at first to express the energy of the dance, and I’ll change it to a gentle fragrance once the dance starts to slow down…)

The fragrances she had come up with as the banquet process were ones she could be satisfied with. 

“Riri, long time no see.”

She turned around when someone spoke to her and saw Tou Aren, the Emperor of Koran, with his aides. 

“Your Majesty. Welcome to Shinzui. How is your health?”

She quickly bent her knees and curtsied. She had heard that he would be coming to the Elegant Incense Gathering but he was in his mid-sixties and had a heart condition. She was worried about whether he would be able to make the trip to Shinzui. 

“It’s been well thanks to the Heart Soothing Incense you made me. I arrived a few days earlier since I wanted to have a nice long conversation with you but I can’t enter the inner palace. I was sad that we couldn’t meet… So, did you decide to become Seirai’s wife?”

It sounded as if he was joking but she knew that he was being serious. He had kidnapped her and nearly forced her to marry Seirai when she went to Koran. 

“I apologise, Your Majesty. I still have things I want to do in Shinzui. Please forgive me.”

Aren sighed loudly. 

“I see. That’s too bad, but I won’t give up. I won’t be pushy anymore, but I will continue to persuade you. Let me know if you change your mind… I’m sorry for what I did to you. I’ll help you with anything you need. I’ll make it happen, no matter what you want.”

Aren tried to force her to marry Seirai when she went to Koran because he wanted to keep someone who could make incenses by his side to help him relieve him of his heart attacks. 

He was insane at that time. 

But he finally regained his composure after a lot of things happened. 

She bowed deeply towards the composed Emperor.

“Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy the banquet today, Your Majesty.”

When she smiled, Aren smiled too. The man she had met in Koran and the one in front of her now were different people. This was proof that he had calmed down both mentally and physically. 

Aren left and she turned her attention to the stage. The curtains were just about to come down on Ranran and the other consorts. 

(There’s still a little time before the next performance. I’ll go out into the corridor and get some clean air. The smell of alcohol and people are making me feel sick.)

She turned around and walked towards the entrance away from the chatting guests. 

There was a wide corridor leading straight outside of the hall and there was a garden to the right. Several guests were talking with drinks in their hands here too. She turned towards the garden and took a deep breath. 

“Phew. My head is hurting because of the different scents mixed together. The air feels nice.”

Having an overly acute sense of smell was inconvenient at times like this. She would be able to put up with it normally, but she had been so busy preparing for the banquet that she had hardly slept the past few days, so she wasn’t at her best. 

“The incense next to the stage will go out soon. The next incense I will burn is…”

She suddenly smelled a certain fragrance while she was confirming the order of the incense in her head. 


It was a very faint smell, so faint that she thought she had imagined it, but the scent that blew upwind was the same as the scent that she was emotionally attached to. 

“I created a gentle and warm scent with the elegant sandalwood as base… I worked hard to create it while thinking about Mokuren. This…”

She worked hard to create this incense for her master when she had just started learning how to make incenses. 

She still remembered the expression on Mokuren’s face when she gave him the first incense she ever made. 

“You’ve come to the palace Mokuren…!”

The wind blew strongly, shaking her long black hair.



“I must tell Kousho-sama that Mokuren is here!”

She returned to the hall when she smelled Mokuren’s scent wafting down the corridor.

She had promised Kousho that she would tell him straight away if she sensed that something was wrong, but she stopped as soon as she entered the hall.

“… The Elegant Incense Gathering has concluded…”

The person standing on the stage where the dance had just taken place was Kousho.