“Hold on. I’ll look for them.”
After hearing Emma’s request, Layna immediately went to her medicine storage closet and rummaged through the drawers. Countless drawers were repeatedly opened and closed. “Let’s see… I have black goat’s beard, anjit, and corrupted reed levicus scent. But I do not have the other one.”
“Then by chance do you have chasteberry? Even the leaves of the lacquer tree are fine.”
“Chasteberry and leaves of the lacquer tree…” After a long time going through each drawer, at last, she offered a pile of dried purple grass and colorful leaves. “Here. Are you able to identify them? It’s troublesome to identify them only by a small sample.”
“Yes.” Emma nodded as she studied the ingredients.
Telling her it was a troublesome feat was a mere excuse. Since an unfamiliar woman suddenly had come and asked for medicinal herbs, Layna must be curious about Emma’s knowledge of botanics and medicine. It was kind of a test. Emma classified the herbs with no difficulties.
Layna’s eyebrows were raised as a surprised look passed her face. “How surprising. All you need are the herbs, right?” she asked, maintaining the air of professionalism once more.
Emma smiled and said, “I need them for menstrual cramps. But… it’s amazing that you have almost everything.”
She lifted the chasteberry and admired the smell coming from it. Due to the high nutritional value of dried berries, they sometimes rot in storage, and pests could easily get into them. That’s why storing them in secret was the key, and Layna’s dark red chasteberries were preserved properly, telling her of the meticulous care and attention the woman must have for the ingredients.
The value of chasteberry medicinal ingredients was significant, but its usage was limited. That’s why it was a drug that was generally not stocked unless it was for a fairly professional pharmacist. Recalling these characteristics, it was very surprising that the pharmacy had chasteberries.
“These herbs are useful in many ways if prepared in large quantities… In this area especially.”
Though Layna spoke serenely with a calm face, her remark was striking to Emma. Chasteberry was an herb that protected the uterus. Not only chasteberries, but most of the herbs Emma had requested were used to protect the uterus and aid in pregnancy.
Through that, Layna implied that Countess Karina was incapable of getting pregnant. She had heard that many years had passed since the count and his wife had gotten married, but have they not given up on having kids yet? Well, as a woman of position, it wasn’t easy to give up on producing a successor.
‘Is that why Countess Karina is so hostile towards Irvan? I’m sure she wants to have a child of her own.’
Looking across Emma’s thoughtful expression, Layna clapped her hands as if to awaken the subject, and then asked, “A mixed ratio is important, but I don’t think you need chasteberries and anjit. Is there any special reason you want to use them?”
“The chasteberries will be ground. Meanwhile, oil can be extracted from Anjit.”
“It’s my first time hearing that the toxic Anjit can be extracted for oil.”
Of course. She was only able to know as this was a secret concoction that’d been made personally by her father.
Layna asked with an academic curiosity, “Can you let me know how it’s made?”
“I am sorry. It’s a family secret.” Emma tried to evade her with a smile, and for a moment a faint light flashed through Layna’s wrinkled eyes.
“Hold on.” She narrowed her eyebrows as she observed Emma. “You said your hometown is Summerville, right, Miss Herman?” she asked.
“Summerville. Herman, Herman… oh!” Layna, who was digging through her memory while repeating the words that lingered on the tip of her tongue, let out a small sigh as if she had discovered something. “Desmond!”
As soon as Layna uttered the name, Emma jumped up in surprise and asked, “You know my father’s name?”
Emma had never imagined that her father’s name would pop out of the mouth of a random pharmacist she met in an unexpected place.
“I know him quite well.” said Layna with confidence, raising her chin. “He is an alumni. I’ve studied with Desmond at the Royal Academy of Berken before. Though he was one class ahead of me.”
“Right. I heard that Father attended there.” Emma had heard her father talk about the Royal Academy’s pharmacology program. He used to sigh about it, saying that he didn’t graduate because he’d dropped out.
“My memory too is hazy since I graduated so long ago, but I hear news about it every now and then. How he has a successful apothecary in Summerville,” Layna continued.
“So you, too, are a graduate of the academy. But why…”
Emma carelessly opened her mouth before quickly suppressing the rest of the sentence back down her throat. Graduates of the Royal Academy of Berken were elites among the elites. Through that, they were treated with immense respect.
The reason that Emma’s father had left his hometown of Polarville and could firmly find his position in Summerville had been because of his experience studying there. Although he hadn’t graduated, his skills had remained with him, so he had created considerable wealth based on this.
Moreover, Layna, who had graduated officially, was able to build even more success anywhere.
‘With Layna’s experience, she could obtain a better position than a professional pharmacist.’
It wasn’t so bad a treatment as to be in charge of the Van Werts’ medicine, but it wasn’t the best opportunity she could get from the Royal Academy.
At Emma’s intelligence, Layna said with a bitter smile, “It’s because of a generous contract that this seems to be exceptional. I urgently needed the money. From now I have about a year and a half left on my contract.”
Of course money was the problem. It was understandable that she, a graduate of the academy, was not in charge of the kingship but of the margrave’s pharmacy because of a tempting offer. Not to mention, the remaining time on the contract was short; it would be manageable.