His casual response was absurd, the tone making it evident that he was teasing.
I burst out laughing.
Lennox’s eyes softened. “And why are you laughing?”
“It’s because you look so serious while talking nonsense.”
“People don’t usually have two eye colors.”
The more I thought about his solemn face when he said his eyes were amber, the more amusing it became to me. “Ask any of the kids over there. Ten out of ten would answer that your irises are red.” A giggle escaped me. “Maybe they’d even say that you’re just like the red-eyed rabbit.”
What would he look like as a rabbit?
Eyes that sparkled like rubies set within glossy black fur naturally came to mind. A slender body and sleek hind legs, too. Still, as a rabbit, his ears would still be perky, right? They’d flap in the wind when he hopped and…
I squealed, covering my cheeks with my hands. “It’s so cute!”
“What the hell are you imagining?” Lennox asked, seemingly alarmed.
“What do you think it is?”
Seeing my meaningful smile, he glared. “Stop that.”
Indeed, the adorable rabbit, Lennox, was angry, and I did not think it was scary at all.
“What do you think I was imagining?”
“Something disturbing and dangerous.”
“I’ll admit it was a bit unsettling, but nothing dangerous.” I added cheekily, “It was just a funny little secret.”
“You really…” He rubbed his forehead in defeat, once again making me laugh.
It was such a nice day. The sky was clear and bright, and accompanying the warmth of the sun was a cool breeze.
“Should we walk to the north of the square this time?” Lennox asked.
I grabbed his hand and pulled, thinking that he hadn’t needed to ask in the first place. “What’s in that direction?”
“An outdoor garden.”
He smiled at my disbelief, then led me forward. “Elysium is especially popular with tourists in spring, when the weather is mild and the various flowers bloom.”
Apparently, while it was probably not yet time to see the flowers in full bloom, he reassured me that we could at least still see the pretty buds.
Lennox needn’t have worried. The wide garden was filled with colorful flowers. The vivid, brilliant colors were like fireworks spread across the land. Everywhere around us were people admiring the view like us, their smiles blooming as well as they walked with their loved ones.
“We sell flowers! Take a look at these fresh, pretty flowers!”
The flower shops were in top form. The storefronts were crowded with men buying bouquets for their lovers and wives.
“What a beautiful spring day this is…”
My husband glanced at me. “Shall I buy you flowers as well?”
I’d never received flowers from anyone before. In fact, I could probably count on my hands the number of times I was given a gift.
I shook my head, feeling a little down after recalling my lonely past. “It’s alright.”
Flowers were something that people in real relationships gave and accepted. Such a gift wasn’t appropriate for those who were bound by survival and material greed.
“I don’t even like flowers that much,” I blurted out, as if my mouth had a mind of its own. “It’s not even a special day…”
Ash cut in, [Didn’t you say you would buy big, colorful flowers to make this a special day, Your Grace?]
“Hey, when did he—”
[You said you would give Olivia only the rarest and most valuable things in the world.]
I hurriedly tried to shush the bird’s frequent demands. “Lennox never promised anything like that!”
“He really didn’t, so why are you being so insistent?”
My mouth dropped open.
“Besides, it’s a special day. Did you forget that we are on our honeymoon? I’ll get upset if you keep acting like this, Olivia,” Lennox said with a pout.
Even though I knew he was acting, I felt strangely guilty
I nodded in acquiescence. “Then, buy it for me over there.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You’re not going with me?”
“It’s a gift. What fun would it be if I chose it?”
[That’s right. Untying the ribbon for the first time gives you more excitement and sentiment,] Ash interjected.
I gently pushed his back in the direction of a florist. “I’ll be expecting a bouquet that I’ll like.”
Deciding to wait for him on a nearby bench, I relished in the soft wind swishing through my sleeves, bringing with it the fragrance of flowers.
’This place is amazing… To whoever chose this place, I applaud you.’
Ash, who had flitted away a little earlier, returned with stems in his beak.
“Ash! You can’t pick the flowers.”
[I didn’t pick them! I picked them up from the ground,] he protested. [The flowers must have been bent by the wind.]
I looked closely, noting the soil on the petals. “What a waste…”
My eyes widened. “It’s not an improved variety!”
The flowers I was familiar with were enhanced by magic, made durable and weather-resistant. This made them a huge hit with the aristocracy.
Upon careful inspection, they all looked like ordinary flowers.
“Would you happen to know why these ones haven’t been infused with magic?”
[If you don’t know, just ask.] Ash dipped his head towards a nearby man who appeared to be a janitor.
“May I ask you something?”
“Of course, my lady.”
“It’s not a big deal, but… I’m curious as to why I don’t see any of the popular magical improvements in the flowers.”
“Oh, are you not from here?”
When I nodded, he explained with a smile, “In fact, we did try to make those improvements, but were met with failure.”
“Why is that?”
“Strangely, the improved flowers didn’t grow well here in Elysium, no matter how fresh they were. After seven days, they all withered.”
I’d heard that such plants were meant to grow well even if you simply watered them. Did that mean that they were amazing or strange?
The man muttered, “We used to say among ourselves that Elysium is a sacred land, and that nothing touched by magic would grow well here.” He added, “We call it magic, but in the end, it is simply the mimicry of God’s ability to create.”
Having answered my question, he wished us well and left to do his job.
I exchanged a glance with Ash. “Isn’t it odd?”
“Do you think there’s anything up with the magically improved flowers they were planting in the Imperial Palace?”
[Huh, I didn’t feel anything strange at all then… What could it be?]
“I’ll have to look into it as soon as we return.”
I wanted to consult with Ash about how to investigate the matter, but a loud voice interrupted my thoughts.
“The flower sale is over today!” The florist happily flipped the sign on his door to show that his shop was closed.
At the same time, there was a big wagon in front of him.
I looked at Ash again. “What could it be?”
“Isn’t that where Lennox went?”
“Why hasn’t he left the place yet?”
The florist gestured busily. His employers were loading the flowers onto the large cart with much care.
“No way… It can’t be.”
The entire thing was ridiculous, but it seemed like just the thing that Lennox would do with a straight face.
[That’s him, right?] Ash whispered, cawing at the approaching wagon.
“Oh my God…”
It stopped right in front of me.
“Madam, it’s a gift from your husband!” The employee who brought it bowed.
“So… All these flowers are…”
Likely mistaking my speechlessness to be a result of being impressed, he nodded furiously. “Yes! And this is not all of it!” He stretched out his arms and pointed to the flower shop.
I turned my head to follow his hand.
There was another cart. And another. And another.
Determined to stop this madness, I ran to the shop. If I hurried, I might be able to get a refund, or at least I might be able to negotiate only buying one cart, as the rest had not been loaded with flowers yet.
My body jerked violently and my vision spun.
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