Episode 16: Daughter of Gandharva
"The Perfumer" is the 4th chapter of The Mystic Archives of Dantalian light novel, volume 4. It's divided into six parts and contains two illustrations. The chapter is labeled as Episode 16 in the story line.
Hugh and Dalian meet Fiona, the lead researcher of the Famenias Company, a cosmetic company known for its luxurious perfumes. During a reunion with her father, they learn about a possible connection between the company, a foreign book and a criminal organization.
A man stands in a narrow alley, holding a slender knife covered in blood. Corpses are seen around him. Criminal organizations have fight each other. A package of narcotics rolls across the ground. This kind of skirmish is common around that poorly secured region. It was strange how the man defeated countless armed enemies with a single knife. The other object he holds is a small perfume bottle.
Someone calls for him from the fire escape above. He informs Noss about a new job. Noss cleans his knife using the clothing of a dead man before stepping on the box containing drugs. His partner smokes a cigar, producing white smoke idly. Noss wonders about the smell he would find during the new mission. He puts the knife away and applies the perfume. He closes his eyes, enjoying the fragrance. The man above ensures Noss will be satisfied during their next job. After all, they would go after the recipe he loves. The cigar is thrown away, landing on the box of drugs and starting a foul-smelling fire.
Part 1 Edit
Hundreds of people of different age groups and social classes were forming a long queue. Even with a train station nearby, it’s unusual to see such a crowd. They are waiting their turn to buy from a coffee shop at an intersection from where one can smell the fragrance of dough. Hugh and Dalian have been waiting in line for hours. With a fascinated expression, she explains the qualities of the fried bread they could purchase there, a product which is making countrymen travel all the way to the capital. For instance, it took them half a day to get to the place by car and train from the Disward estate. The glutton girl complains about how they were allowed to buy only ten fried breads per person. At the counter, Hugh orders twenty fried breads before he notices a commotion.
A young woman wearing a white coat pushes through the crowd, cutting the line and causing people to fall and complain. She sniffs the store, looking around, when she notices a puzzled Hugh. The girl can tell he’s a good person. She approaches him, asking for his help, saying bad people were chasing her. Dalian gets in between them, trying to ignore the woman. The Biblioprincess tells Hugh to order drinks. The person in white affirms they should help a beautiful woman, even if she’s a stranger. She runs with the bag of fried breads, for Dalian’s despair, when a new fuss starts. Two robust man are seen in the mob surrounding the shop, looking for Fiona. Following Dalian’s orders, Hugh tries to reach the woman who took the fried breads, but ends up blocking the way of the strong men. They become hostile, briefly discussing about a course of action. One of them throws a metal cylinder in front of Fiona, pulling a safety valve. Hugh is too late to stop the man from using what appears to be a grenade. However, the device blows out a lot of white smoke. It’s a stink bomb, which releases a heavy smell of rotten eggs and fermented cheese. The stimulus is too much for Fiona, who falls on the road in agony. Dalian screams, watching her breads scattered across the ground, emanating a foul odor.
Part 2 Edit
The men lifted the woman in white coat off the ground and apologized to Hugh and Dalian. They informed their employer about the situation. Hugh and Dalian were received at the office of an old building in the commercial district of the capital. A middle-aged man, apparently the president of the company, apologizes for her daughter Fiona. Dalian is acting shy and ill-mannered behind a heap of fried breads which were bought by the two employees from the Famenias Company. She had forced them to compensate her. The company is a cosmetic manufacturer, famous for its perfumes, although it’s undergoing a crisis. He explains Fiona is a talented perfumer and works as the lead researcher, being responsible for the formulation of the Blue Trance, the biggest hit of the corporation, when she was only a young child. However, the president was having problems at dealing with his daughter. He apologizes again, trying to hush up the events that occurred earlier. After all, it would be a blow to the company’s image if people knew they were responsible for the release of a smelly gas.
While examining the shelves behind a window, Hugh notices a book carved into the bottle of a perfume. As the man explains, it’s well-known in the cosmetic industry that an old and foreign book is the reason why the family started to sell perfumes. The company was not recognized as a luxury brand until its first president obtained a book containing sophisticated perfume manufacturing methods. Only talented perfumers could understand its contents, hence Fiona inherited it. Mr. Famenias never used the book, but he’s happy letting his daughter read it. Besides, having a young woman as a perfumer resulted in good publicity for them. Although the book is the company’s symbol, he thinks it has no value, fact which makes Dalian angry. She curses the man, but luckily her mouth is too full of fried breads to someone make some sense of it.
The man keeps boasting about the company, ignoring Dalian’s rage, until a knocking is heard. An employee appears at the door with a message which makes Mr. Famenias grimace. Whispering, he says that people from the Padauk Company are looking for the president. The latter excuses himself from the office, asking Hugh and Dalian to wait for Fiona. Hugh heard rumors about the Padauk Company. A trading company as facade, it’s a criminal organization involved in blackmailing, smuggling and illegal drug trade. It was odd how the Famenias Company was involved with the mafia even after the success of Fiona’s product.
She roughly entered the office without knocking, causing Dalian to tremble and hide behind Hugh, trying to protect her last fried bread. Fiona’s hair was wet and she was wearing a new white coat. The woman had bathed to remove the smell caused by the stink bomb. At her waist, there’s a leather pouch filled with glass bottles. She can smell the bread held by Dalian. The Biblioprincess tells her they have eaten everything a long time ago. Fiona breathes in for a moment, pushing her nose next to Dalian’s neck. She can smell her lie. Dalian almost cries when Fiona takes the bread from her hands. Hugh admires how the perfumer can rely on her nose.
After Fiona eats the bread, she tells them about her escape earlier. She enjoys making perfumes, but disapproves the way her father was doing business. He only thinks about profit, to the point of commercializing the Blue Trance, a failure work, without her permission. Fiona knows Hugh is a good person. Even after waiting in line for hours, he remained calmed when the confusion started. She thought he was used to disorder, having such a thing under his coat. Hugh reveals himself as a former pilot and explains the gun is only a memento from his grandfather. When Dalian asks about the book containing the knowledge to produce perfumes, Fiona mentions how her great-grandfather had taught her about Phantom Books. Although Dalian wants to see the book, Fiona was told to never show the book to other people. However, Dalian convinces her by reminding her about the fried bread she ate. Fiona means to take them to her house, the Famenias Company laboratory.
Part 3 Edit
The laboratory was not too far from the Famenias Company headquarters. Next to the old mansion there were large gardens and greenhouses with unfamiliar plants and animals that form a balanced ecosystem and give off a pleasant atmosphere and smell. Fiona lived alone in a small building located in the corner of the property. Hugh and Dalian notice how the laboratory looks more like a zoo or a botanical garden. Apparently, the perfumer didn’t rely on servants to keep the place in order. Dalian complains about having to step on weeds. She screams in fear when a small animal climbs her black clothes. According to Fiona, the civet produces raw materials to make perfumes. Hugh asks about a stone-like block placed in front of the mansion while lifting it up. Hugh drops it without thinking after learning it’s whale vomit, an expensive secretion also used in fragrances. Fiona catches the material in the air. Her laboratory surprises Hugh. He thought her workplace would be more advanced.
Fiona lives in her laboratory by herself. She has problems interacting with other people. With her acute smell, she can notice when someone is lying or faking emotions. At least, using her skills, she can meet people like Hugh and Dalian. The perfumer hugs the Biblioprincess, grabbing her cheeks. Dalian calls her a dog, using a disgusting tone, although it’s clear she likes Fiona. The latter is unhappy with the Famenias products. Rather than manufacturing perfumes to decorate people, she wants to keep her research and develop a smell that makes people happy. By working on the only thing she understands, the smell, Fiona wants to influence memories and emotions to improve lives.
When Dalian asks to see the Phantom Book, Fiona searches her pockets and realizes she forgot a key back at the president’s office. Dalian decides to return to the Famenias Company headquarters with Fiona, instead of waiting in the laboratory, dealing with the energetic civet. Fiona stops next to the gate. A thin, young man with dirty clothes entered the property without permission. He notices Fiona is a researcher after examining her white coat. The man is looking for a product called Relic. He presents a bunch of dirty banknotes while smiling and showing his stained teeth. Fiona’s expression hardens. He shouldn’t know about the Relic. Everything about it was supposed to have been destroyed. Laughing hysterically, the man mentions how the Padauk Company was planning to kill the president of the Famenias Company to obtain all the profit from the Relic. Hugh follows Fiona to the headquarters, leaving the man sit on the ground, laughing and smoking.
Part 4 Edit
The Famenias Company building was completely changed. Its elegant interior had bloodstains everywhere, presenting a dreadful atmosphere. Dead bodies were piled in the back of the headquarters. Hugh noticed only one man alive in that battlefield. The confused employee had fallen in a corner. He was breathless, trembling with fear, shattering his teeth and moaning. According to him, a man with a knife killed everyone, while other man watched everything. Hugh is unable to stop Fiona when she runs to the president’s office. She finds a man in black holding a bloodied knife next to Mr. Famenias, who is collapsed in his desk with a sliced throat. While Fiona is frozen in place, the enemy applies a perfume from a small bottle. He thanks Fiona, recognizing her as the president’s daughter and the researcher who developed the Relic. Hugh questions the man and learns that he’s only a murderer hired by the Padauk Company. As for the Relic, according to him, it’s a perfume that gives pleasure and release people from pain and sorrow.
Fiona affirms he’s wrong. She deems the Relic as a failure work, a drug that drives people crazy, a product which she came by while creating the Blue Trance. Another man in black appear from the back of the president’s office. Vance found a confidential document describing the Relic recipe. He leaves the president's office after ordering Noss to kill Fiona in order to keep the secrets of how to develop the Relic in the hands of the Padauk Company. The criminal organization plans to sell the perfume as a drug. Noss keeps moving even when Hugh has his gun pointed at him. The man carrying a knife has unbelievable reflexes. He avoids Hugh’s shot and moves to his blind spot. Dalian informs the murderer’s location and Hugh receives Noss’ knife with the gun barrel of his revolver, protecting his throat from a fatal blow. Noss knee strikes Hugh, pushing him against a wall. Still, Hugh smiles triumphantly, looking the bullet wound on Noss’ leg. However, the murderer seems unaffected.
The Relic was numbing his emotions and sense of pain while enhancing his strength and agility. He wants to keep fighting, but ends up collapsing after a second shot in the abdomen. One of the president’s employees was standing at the door, holding a shotgun. The large man relaxes for a moment. He’s too surprised seeing Noss standing up again. His throat is sliced unceremoniously by the Relic addict. He means to apply the perfume again, as if trying to drown the smell of blood. However, Hugh shoots the bottle. Noss examines his bloodied hand which was holding the perfume. Hugh also shoots his other leg and both his shoulders. Normally, Noss wouldn’t be able to move with all those wounds, which would be fatal if not treated. Nevertheless, he manages to push Hugh against a wall and prepares to stab him. Just before the attack, Fiona jumps in front of Hugh and ends up stabbed in his place. With a knife through her left breast and a bullish smile, she takes a glass bottle from her pouch and smashes against Noss’ head. According to her, the liquid running down his face sharpens pain stimulus.
Noss screams, affected by a combination of bad injuries and enhanced sense of pain. He stops after suffering a heart attack. Fiona also collapses, worrying Hugh and Dalian. The latter reveals the lock on her chest. Fiona has learned from her great-grandfather about The Mystic Archives of Dantalian. She’s healed as Hugh reads a Phantom Book taken from the Labyrinth Library. Vance comes back and prepares to shoot them with a handgun, without believing how they defeated Noss. Fiona thanks Hugh and Dalian and throws a second bottle at Vance’s face. The man enters a hypnotic state, dropping his weapon. She also takes a third bottle form her pouch. She sprays the light purple liquid on Hugh and apologizes. Hugh gets drowsy and loses consciousness. Fiona walks towards Vance and orders him to take her to his boss.
Part 5 Edit
Hugh regains consciousness a few minutes later, coughing and shedding tears, with his head resting on Dalian’s lap. She used a chemical made by Fiona to wake him up. Before leaving the place, the perfumer presented Dalian with the key to her laboratory, where they could find The Scent God’s Scripture, the Phantom Book which choose Fiona as its user. With the power to control people’s emotion through the smell of her perfumes, Fiona was able to put criminals into a hypnotic state and manipulate them. Hugh raises his head, realizing Fiona was heading to the Padauk Company headquarters.
In the late afternoon, they can smell blood at the gates of the Padauk Company mansion. The place is supposed to be heavily guarded, prepared for the attacks of hostile organizations. However, the men carrying handguns and axes were all dead. It seemed as if they had committed suicide. Only around the mansion, one can count around 20 bodies. The scene was probably caused by a perfume formulated by Fiona, a product with a death-inducing smell, created with the forbidden knowledge from a Phantom Book.
The situation looked more gruesome inside the mansion. The smell of blood is intense, as if one could see a red mist in the air. They find Fiona next to a wide window. The red moon illuminates her unraveled hair and her bloodstained coat. She shows her tongue, like a kid. She didn’t want them to see her like that. At her feet, the bodies of Vance and of an old man, probably the boss of the Padauk Company. Fiona wished to atone for her acts. When the performance of the Famenias Company was dropping, she gave her father the recipe to produce Blue Trance, knowing how dangerous that could be. After all, Blue Trance is the diluted version of Relic. Not satisfied with the profit from selling perfumes, Mr. Famenias started offering the Relic to the Padauk Company. Fiona couldn’t invade the headquarters of a criminal organization unscathed. A red stain from a wound shot spreads across the flank of her white coat. She collapses on the floor, accepting her punishment, aware she couldn’t be healed by a Phantom Book for the second time. Hugh and Dalian kneel next to her. Dalian says they could take her to a doctor. However, Fiona can smell her gentle lie. The perfumer closes her eyes and stops moving.
Part 6 Edit
Flames were covering the Famenias Company laboratory. The Relic addict, under suspicion of arson, was being taken by the police. He searched the Relic around the place without permission, setting it on fire when he couldn’t find the drug. Dalian affirms it’s a good thing having the fire consuming Fiona’s researches and Phantom Book. Making a name for herself by selling perfumes was not her main objective. Furthermore, only Fiona could read The Scent God’s Scripture. The fire was producing a nostalgic smell. The firefighters and the onlookers stopped moving. Everyone was surprised, remembering nice memories because of that smell. The wind was spreading the scent across the capital. Although those people would forget about Fiona’s name, they would remember that smell during a happy moment. On their way to the station, Hugh asks what Dalian remembered while smelling the fragrance. She looks at Hugh unconsciously, but quickly turns her eyes away. According to an embarrassed Dalian, she thought about fried bread. She becomes more and more angry as Hugh underappreciates the breads.
- "Daughter of Gandharva" refers to Fiona, owner of The Scent God's Scripture, a Phantom Book which describes the secrets of gandharvas, deities associated with fragrances.
- Perfumer is a term used for experts on creating perfume compositions, artists recognized by their fine sense of smell and skill in producing olfactory compositions. Fiona illustrates how perfumers must know a large variety of fragrance ingredients and their smells, besides being able to distinguish them. The first mention of a perfumer may come from a Babylonian tablet dating back over 3000 years.
- Fiona discovers Dalian had eaten fried breads by smelling its ingredients, such as wheat gluten, butter and olive oil. She also identifies traces of the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. First described by French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard in 1912, it occurs in meats, coffee, chips and baked goods.
- She admits enjoying the smell of aspartic and alginic acids. Both molecules are used in the food industry.
- As Fiona explains, civet musk is a secretion produced by the civet cats and prepared for use in perfumery. The oily substance comes from special pouched glands, being regularly extracted from animals kept in small cages. Despite production of its synthetic version, the industry still uses the material.
- Ambergris is another raw material highly valued by perfumers. It's a secretion formed in the intestines of the sperm whale. The animal can expel it through the mouth, leading to the reputation of ambergris as primarily coming from whale vomit.