“This lady is the best perfume creator in the capital…chew, so she can easily concoct the medicine you need, your highness… Chew, hi miss chew, his highness is looking for you…chew.”
I helplessly smiled and said to Lucia who was speaking to the young lady while she was chomping away one mouthful at time on the rabbit thigh she was eating: “Lucia, either eat or speak.” After comforting Lucia, she got all giddy and happily held my hand as we made our way around, and accepted everyone’s greetings. I politely smiled at the people who approached us to greet us.
I saw Lucia look in the direction of a street store which looked like a small tavern. A very appetizing scent came from its direction. I indicated to her that she could go grab a bite from there. After she bought a rabbit thigh and some wine, she came running back cheerfully…
Where’s mine?! Where’s mine?!
“As a prince, it’s considered bad manners to eat this sort of stuff in front of people!”
Is that the reason you’re eating while you’re talking to someone?!
She nodded at the lady she was speaking with, which I presume is because she realised she wasn’t being very respectful. She then stood to one side and raised the wine she just bought…
You bought, so you drink it!!
I helplessly smiled and walked up to her. The lady from this elf race didn’t dress like other female elves. She wore a grey robe which covered her entire body, and even had a cape attached to the shoulders to hide her neck. She wore a silk cloth over her face to cover her nose and mouth, and thin black gloves on her hands.
We were in what resembled a large greenhouse. As soon as we entered, our face was hit with heat waves and the complex scent of flowers. I wanted to find someone with lots of experience in perfumery, so Lucia brought me here. The greenhouse was filled with all sorts of plants and flowers as I expected. We found the person we were after tucked away in a corner of the greenhouse.
This wasn’t an ordinary greenhouse. In the middle was the corridor. On both sides were little gardens with all sorts of flowers. Some gardens were hot and humid while others cool. Some had rain pouring down, others snow. Crossing the corridor to where she was, was like passing through all four seasons.
She looked my way with her blood-red eyes before smiling, removing her face cloth and gloves. Her skin looked as white as snow, yet her lips were as red as fresh blood. She bowed towards me, and said: “It is an absolute honour to meet you here today. May I ask what brings you here?”
“Nothing much. I was just hoping you could help me create a perfume that could attract Earth Dragons. According to my knowledge, the leader of a pack will come out from hiding behind some special flowers and release a scent from their body, and this scent is said to attract other Earth Dragons nearby. I was hoping you could create something with a similar function for me.”
She pursed her lips into a smile, and said: “No problem. What actually attracts Earth Dragons isn’t some perfume, but is actually the stuff their body secretes mixed with the liquids found in those flowers. I can create what you need just by combining the two.”
“Will it be hard?”
“No. It is very simple. But it is only simple now.” She took out a small bottle, handed it to me, and said: “This is the liquid the pack leader secretes. Before I traded with the humans, this bottle was one I made after her highness “asked” me to. But now, its value is barely higher than the bottle of wine that young lady is holding in her hand. Humans are very fascinating creatures. In just a few hundred years, they’ve gained things we’ve never laid our hands on before. Additionally, their blood is really tasty.”
She smiled and licked her lips in front of me. Behind her rosy red lips were two sharp teeth which sent a chill up my spine. I paused for a moment, before saying in a surprised tone: “You’re a vampire?!”
Wait, are they called vampires in this world? I don’t know… I just said it out of instinct…
“You could say that. You can call me that if you please, I am not bothered. We are just a race of elves that are cursed. We drink fresh blood because of our lust. We were almost completely killed off. If her highness did not provide us with a place to live and blood to drink, we would be extinct. The scent of blood from livestock stinks, but we cannot let her highness down. Our race does not have any particular skills, but our smell and taste are highly enhanced. For example, when you came in, my instincts kicked in…” She smiled, looked at me, sniffed me, and said: “However, I never thought you would have the scent of human blood on you. If I am correct, your ears under your head cloth are those of humans, right? Ah…”
Lucia who was enjoying her meal drew her dagger, appeared in front of her and held her dagger up against her neck. Lucia gazed straight into her eyes, pushed her dagger closer to her throat, and said: “You know too much. We only came here to ask you to make a bottle of what we need. If you know something you shouldn’t know, we’ll be forced to ask somebody else and seal your mouth forever.”
I pressed my hands on her shoulder. The lady smiled as she raised her hands and said: “Please do not worry, your highness. You and I are the same. We both have secrets we do not others to know. I cover my teeth with a face cloth while you cover your ears with your head cloth. We are fundamentally the same. Why would I sell out someone with a secret like myself? Not to mention, you are the future-emperor.”
Lucia looked at me, nodded, withdrew her dagger and retreated behind me. She picked up her unfinished meal and continued. I smiled bitterly and said: “Sorry for frightening you, I hope you won’t mind. I also hope you won’t reveal my secret.”
“I know, I know. Elves cannot accept half-breeds like you, not to mention you have killed an elf’s child before. To be frank, I never realised you were a half-bred. Your mother, her highness gave birth to you and the previous emperor is your father, so I do not understand how you are a half-breed. I honestly cannot wrap my head around it.”
She rubbed her throat, turned around, plucked a few flowers and put them into the mortar, and added a bit of water. I picked up a few flowers I saw her pluck out of interest. They were ordinary small yellow flowers. They looked like dandelions. I brought it close to my nose and sniffed it. It was tiny flower, but gave off a very strong scent.
Haven’t I smelt this scent somewhere before?
No, it couldn’t have been in the past. I never spent time enjoying flower scents before I died, and I don’t believe a flower from this world could survive in the world I came from. I definitely encountered this scent from someplace in this world. I haven’t been here for long. Just where have I smelt it before?
Elves like plants so I’ve been surrounded by flowers ever since I arrived. There were wild flowers on the lawn, a flourishing flower garden in the courtyard out the back. There are flower vases by my bed-side, and flower pots on window ledges of houses I passed down the streets. I’ve always been surrounded by lots and lots of flowers. How did I not notice this tiny flower?
I couldn’t recall where I smelt it before, but it wouldn’t matter even if I could. Even if I did, I still wouldn’t have had their body secretions. It looks like the humans raised Earth Dragons to extract it from them. I had no idea when I was supposed to use it, but I just knew it could help me.
I watched her filter the parts she grinded over and over again until all that was left was a thick juice which she then finally added to the extract. To be frank, it’s strange to see a vampire fiddling around with flowers. This is all thanks to mom. It’s just as Lucia said, mom united the scattered elves, then gave them freedom and power.
Her tolerance and ability to be impartial is what has allowed elves to thrive like this. But it looks like elves are very fussy about lineages and bloodlines. They don’t discriminate against each other, but they seem to discriminate against other races, such as humans for example.
Since mom gave birth to me, I should be an elf. The ruler of humanity is a queen. A female king can’t make babies with a female queen… How does that quote go again? I think it was: “No matter how compatible a lesbian couple is, it’s not possible for them to… ” Right? Or was he like Makoto* and boned the queen of both nations?
What does the queen of humanity want me for then? Since mom gave birth to me, I must be her son. Do we have surrogate mothers in this world? Isn’t asking the queen of elves to be a surrogate mother a little ridiculous?
I have this feeling that the story behind my identity is more dramatic than my entire life combined. Using common sense to try and figure out things in this world is fruitless… My head is about to explode from thinking and I still haven’t figured out what happened prior to my birth.
A strong scent filled the room, bringing me back to the present. I looked at the work-desk as the vampire was mixing the two together. The colour it gave off wasn’t as radiant as I expected. I was a little disappointed actually. It was a clear liquid, but there was no mistake that that stifling scent came from that tiny bottle.
Lucia walked up to my side.
I guess she’s done eating.
She looked at the tiny bottle and said: “This is it? It stinks.”
“Imagine yourself in my skin. I’ve got enhanced smelling so I’m suffering the most right now.” She turned around to look at me, squinted, took off her face cloth and took a few deep breaths for air. Her facial expression was saying: “It stinks to the high heavens. I’m dying here.”
She coughed a few times and then handed me the bottle, and said: “Here you go, your highness. This is what you asked for. Please handle it with care. Do not spill it. If you spill it, all the Earth Dragons in the vicinity of the capital will pay us a visit. And if I am correct, there a horde of Earth Dragons leisurely roaming nearby at the moment, right?”
She giggled and handed me the cork, then said with a smile: “Since you are here to ask me for this today, I have a good idea of how your last campaign went. Do not worry about it. You do not need to feel ashamed about it. Being able to return alive is proof of your skills. Those Earth Dragons are not something some normal unit could handle.”
Sorry, but, uhh… I actually also died…
It was rare to see Lucia get angry and yell: “They weren’t ordinary recruits! They were children of aristocratic families! They went to support his highness! We’re all acquainted with each other! I won’t stand by and let you ridicule them!!”
I paused to rub my head before saying: “Yeah, I came here today to prepare for another Earth Dragon hunt. I’m going to slaughter the lot of them to avenge our warriors.”
The young lady blinked and said with a smile: “You certainly are impressive. You are charismatic wherever you go. I imagine getting me to make this is part of your plan. I will not ask too much, but I wish you success… That is if you accept the wishes of someone from a fallen race…”
She bowed, and I said while awkwardly nodding: “Thank you. We will head off now then. Oh yeah… About the payment… How much would you like for the job?”
She looked up at me, shrugged and said: “Have you not already paid me? Right now, this extract is just slightly more expensive than wine and the flower is very common. The only rare thing is my skill. But my life was given to me by her highness. How could I charge her son who came to me for assistance? As I said at the start, it is my honour to help you. Please do not worry about it. I wish her highness a speedy recovery. She may have forgotten what she has done for us, but we will never forget her sense of justice and kindness. May the gods be with you, your highness.”
“Thank you. Please at least accept my thanks. It was a pleasure to meet you. Goodbye.”
“I wish you a safe return.”
After she bowed, I turned around and said: “Let’s go, Lucia.”
“Ah, please wait a moment, your highness… Actually, please just wait for me at the door… I want to buy some perfume before we head back. I’ll be quick, please give me a moment.”
Lucia who was standing behind me suddenly pushed me out the door. I turned around and looked at her utterly confused, but she just gave me an apologetic smile and then closed the door.
I turned around and let out a helpless sigh. I then waited for her at the door.
It’s not unreasonable for a girl to want a bottle of perfume, is it?
*Makoto from ‘School Days’ (T/N: Terrible reference… I never read that and had to read what the flip it was just to get that)