SETP Vol. 1 Chapter 19
Chapter 19 – The Florist
A dozen minutes after the conversation with father and Grerial, I used a secret passage out of the castle into the town. There were no escorts with me of course.
I also changed my clothing so I didn’t look like a prince, but a son from a well-to-do family at best. Since I usually stayed holed up inside, only a few people knew my face, so even if I went into town no one would likely recognize me.
“Is the florist in?”
I arrived at a small, secluded house. The board outside showed a picture of a flower, so it looked like any other flower shop, but it didn’t show any signs of being successful.
In this world, flowers were a luxury item. They were used by nobles as gifts, so few people bought them normally.
“My, my, prince Fay. To what do I owe this honor?”
The sliding door rattled open and a man in his thirties appeared. His name was Warrick and he was one of my few acquaintances. He had a name, of course, but I simply called him florist.
“I came to buy flowers and to chat a bit. May I come in?”
“Chat a bit? Now that’s rare. Customers are scarce nowadays, so I’ll gladly comply. Would black tea be fine?”
“No, it will only take a moment, so there’s no need.”
The board hanging on the door switched from “Open” to “Closed”.
“Please come in. Let us talk in the back.”
I walked inside the store as Warrick invited me.
As I personally liked flowers, I sometimes visited his store. In Diestburg, there were only three flower shops. Warrick’s was the only one in the district close to the castle, so I simply called it “Florist”.
“Now then, what kind of flowers do you need this time?”
“The same as always, seven red spider lilies. And make sure you don’t add even one as a bonus.”
“You always ask for those, Prince Fay. Is there any special significance?”
The florist looked at me with a wry smile and asked the same question again. He often told me that I was the only person bizarre enough to buy the so-called “Flowers of the Dead” so often. Though he said that, he always made sure he had them in stock since they have a fixed buyer.
“They can mean [Longing to see you again] in the language of flowers. And you always ask for seven of them. Are there seven people you wish to meet again, Prince Fay?”
I stopped the florist’s escalating theories with one word.
“You’re the seller, I’m the buyer. That’s all there is to it. You wouldn’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest, would you?”
“My humblest apologies.”
“That’s enough. Have the flowers ready for when I go back. About the chat…”
I visited this flower shop with a fixed frequency, once a month. This time, however, I came a little earlier than usual. The florist’s intuition told him I had to have a particular reason to.
“If I remember correctly, you said you used to have your shop in the kingdom of Rinchelle before.”
“Yes, that’s right. Before coming here to the Diestburg kingdom, I was there until about five years ago.”
I started coming to this flower shop five years ago too. I remembered that the florist told me he had just opened the shop.
“I would like to know something about Rinchelle.”
The florist thought silently for a while. The fact that my brother Grerial was engaged to the princess of the Rinchelle kingdom was very well known. Even so, I asked the florist, not my brother, about Rinchelle. He probably thought I had to have my reasons to do so.
“I will be glad to help you anyway I can.”
He gladly accepted. I didn’t have a proper reason, so I would have had a hard time explaining. The florist, who generally had little interest in anything other than flowers, was very useful in times like this.
“What kind of country is it? I will go there soon, so I wanted to know in advance.”
I wasn’t lying. I was just concerned. Just like Grerial laughed as he said he wasn’t my brother for 14 years for nothing, I wasn’t his little brother for nothing either. I felt that there was something unusual in his atmosphere. Just a little bit.
“It’s a country rich in resources, that’s for sure. They tend to favor gems such as pearls over flowers, so it wasn’t a good place for flower shops.”
Until this point, we were really having nothing but a chat. The main point would come next.
The reason why I went all the way to see the florist, who sold flowers nobles used in their celebrations…it could be said that the florist was the only person I could really rely on, but I had another more proper reason.
My actual reason was that, being deeply involved with the world of nobles, the florist might know something about the inner workings of Rinchelle’s noble society.
“What about the family’s relations then?”
By “family” here I meant the royal family. Especially the relations between their princes and princesses.
“…..please wait a moment.”
The florist then stood up, opened a nearby drawer and took out a sheet of paper and a brush.
“All I know is from five years ago, after all. There might be some discrepancies, so please keep that in mind.”
“Then it’s alright.”
The florist placed the paper in front of me and his brush started running on it.
First prince, second prince, third prince.
First princess, second princess.
“First of all, the first prince is indeed first in line to inherit the throne, but because of his frail health it can be said that he is first in name only.”
The first prince’s name is marked with a cross.
“When he was young they said he was just a bit frail, but five years ago I heard that he was weak to the point that he couldn’t fulfill his governmental duties.”
Next was the second prince.
“The second prince has a fiancee, the first daughter of duke Wellington, if I recall. The house of Wellington has produced the captain of Rinchelle’s royal knights for generations. I heard that the king could not disregard their position, thus he decided on their daughter as fiancee for the second prince.”
The name “House Wellington” is added to the sheet of paper. Under it, the florist wrote “Royal Knights”.
“The third prince too has a fiancee, the first daughter of marquis Learess. This house is in charge of the battalion of magic users established some dozens of years ago, called the Spellcaster Squad.”
Next to the third prince, the florist wrote the names of house Learess and the Spellcaster Squad.
“The royal knights, who deeply honor the principles of knighthood, and the spellcaster squad have poor affinity, so the king tried to marry their houses’ daughters to the princes other than the first in order to get rid of the animosity. However…”
“The unexpected factor was the first prince’s poor health, I suppose?”
“Indeed. If ‘something’ happened there would be a huge commotion in the royal house, thus five years ago there were many nobles deeply anxious about this issue.”
Grerial was engaged with Rinchelle’s first princess more than five years ago.
“The strategy ended up having the opposite effect, then.”
“You could say that.”
The florist’s writing hand then stopped.
“Is there anything about the princesses?”
“The first princess is engaged to His Highness Prince Grerial, Prince Fay’s older brother. I know nothing except that. However, the second princess could be said to resemble you to an extent…”
“She’s always holed up in her chambers, so there is no information about her?”
The florist then folded the sheet of paper in four and started tearing it in shreds.
“Today I simply sold you flowers, as usual. Then we chatted a little. Casual conversation of little importance. Am I right?”
“…yes, you are. There is no mistake about that.”
“Thank you very much.”
The florist stood up again, this time to prepare the flowers to give me.
I heard the sound of his scissors cutting the red spider lilies to be put up in my room.
The florist then called for me.
“Do you know the reason why I revealed such information to you, Your Highness?”
The private circumstances of the royal house were definitely a bit too delicate to be passed as “casual conversation”.
The reason could not be just the fact that we were acquaintances.
“Because there are no bad people among those who treasure flowers. That’s all there is to it. If I had to add something, you were also this shop’s first loyal customer, Prince Fay. I suppose giving you a little special treatment wouldn’t hurt.”
“At present, Rinchelle might be a bit dangerous, though.”
If what the florist said was true, it would pay to be alert.
Personally, I wanted to make sure Grerial wasn’t going to die.
Unconsciously, my hand reached for my waist.
“A prince’s position might trigger conflict or unwanted trouble.”
The florist’s scissor cut with a snap.
“Please be very careful. I would hate to lose one of my best customers too.”
The florist then handed me the neatly tied bouquet of red spider lilies I ordered.
“I’ll keep it in mind. Coming here was the right choice after all. Thank you, florist.”
The red spider lilies’ price was five silver coins, but as a sign of gratitude I put three golden coins down.
One golden coin was more than enough to sustain a family of five for one month. And I put down three of them.
The coins came from the pocket money my father gave me, but they were a relatively exaggerated payment for the flowers.
“….it’s a story from five years ago, I told you.”
The florist implied that it couldn’t be worth three gold coins.
Since it was information many people were aware of at the time, the florist meant to say that he couldn’t accept them, but—
“It’s a matter of feelings. Please accept them, florist.”
“….please do come again, Your Highness.”
“Yes, I will. Make sure you have red spider lilies ready.”
I opened the sliding door.
“I will be looking forward to your next visit.”
Strangely, the red spider lilies’ meaning lingered in my ears.