July 14th – The Festival of Enohi Derak’s Scent

From a very young age, Enohi Derak had little trouble getting to know people. Even as a baby they were very popular, with plenty of folks volunteering to look after them for a few hours, even when they were balling their eyes out. The other children at playgroup were somehow calmer around them, more gentle, less likely to fight over toys. When they hit puberty, they were suddenly an object of desire, the person everyone fancied from afar, but were too shy to talk with them properly, too inept in their presence to flirt. Perhaps it was for this reason that Derak’s best friend and later partner suffered from anosmia: they couldn’t smell.

According to Derak’s diary, which is available to be read upon special request to the Union of Perfumers and Chemical Modulators, they were about fifteen when they realised it was their scent that had these effects on people. Their heady arrogance and self-assuredness helped, definitely, but it was their scent that was the primary factor. It made folks calmer, but combined with their winning smile, the way they seemed to flirt with every word they said, it disarmed people, made them lose their train of thought. By the age of nineteen, Derak could make a 12th Century treatise on political economy written by someone who’d never stepped outside a library in their life sound like they were asking you to bed.

The obvious choice for Derak’s employment was within the Office of External Affairs, and indeed that was where they worked for some time. Their scent and general disarming personality were excellent tools whilst negotiating trade deals with other cities, trading bodies and empires. It was Derak who negotiated the Treaty of the Broken Sword, and also they who re-started trade with Litancha after that city cut ties with Buentoille after the Revolution. Many nowadays see the price Buentoille paid to reforge those links, specifically the ‘extraordinary trading permit’ given to BioJohnsoncorp (one of Litancha’s largest companies, implicated in all sorts of scandal) as too much, too anti-Revolutionary. However, we must remember that it was a time in which trade was seen as vital to the City’s survival, and whilst the permit allows the corporation to retain its backwards hierarchical structure (rather than submitting to worker control, like all other Buentoilliçan businesses) it does little in Buentoille besides hold a nominal office where research deals are occasionally cut. Technically it may legally sell goods within the City, but a long standing boycott has put an end to that.

Outside of their work, Derak spent a lot of time trying to understand the gift they had been given. They knew, from the reaction of their anosmic partner, Pleasance Aeoli, that it was their scent that caused the emotional reaction within those they talked to. Perhaps it was some form of pheromone that they over-produced? They found that they could stop the scent’s effect by covering themself with patchouli oil, or other strong, masking scents. It was not that they disliked the effect it had on people, it was fairly normal for them, but they wished to better understand it.

It was this quest that eventually brought them to the Union of Perfumers and Chemical Modulators. After exhaustive tests on Derak’s skin, sweat and hair, the Union’s scientists eventually found that the scent was simply a scent, rather than some more exotic chemical factor. With Derak’s permission, they began synthesising it, trying to achieve the same psychological effects. It seems that, through some quirk of evolution, Derak’s body produced precisely the correct combination of smells to create a calming, disarming effect on most humans. The scent they created, named simply ‘Enohi Derak’s Scent’, reproduces the original to a factor of 99.9% accuracy, and was planned to be put into many bathing products and perfumes, although the researchers were having a little trouble ensuring it did not clash with the bodily odours of the individual wearing it. However, on the 18th of August 1965 this research stopped; it was banned.

Today is the only day you can legally smell or distribute Enohi Derak’s Scent. The public were worried about the effects of long-term exposure to the smell, believing that it would create a less critically aware, more easily controlled population, which could open the doors to potentially malign influences. Obviously Derak themself could not be banned, nor did anyone want to persecute him, but Buentoille is a sceptical and fiercely autonomous City, and could not allow for anything that threatened that autonomy. Indeed, far from being treated as something alien and dangerous, Derak’s legacy is celebrated today, their contributions to society remembered.

Access to the scent is tightly controlled, and the recipe for its synthesis is closely guarded by the Union. Today, as an act of remembrance to the person who undoubtedly saved lives and made the City a better place to live through the trade deals and other negotiations they struck, the scent will be pumped around the City, through the streets and into the parks, with large diffusers. For those who don’t wish to be part of the festival, small, in-nose neutralisers are available for free, but they are rarely taken up. The smell is luxurious, but difficult to describe. It is certainly warm, like light falling through a window on a spring day, and there is perhaps a floral hint to it as well, similar to night jasmine. Some claim it smells raw and animalistic, others that it is like the flesh of a ripe peach. A few people claim not to be able to smell it at all, although still have the same psychological effects.

Today the streets of Buentoille will be warm, friendly places, more so than they normally are. Folk will stop to talk in the streets with complete strangers, and will open up with friends, not holding part of themselves back, as they normally do. Apparently it is a similar feeling to being slightly drunk; your normal defences to the world are lowered, you feel more at ease, more happy to share secrets and make declarations of love. Some will regret what they said tomorrow morning, but for most people it is a release, one in which they happily languish.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Little Black Book
  • The Festival of Pure Air Seekers
  • A Day for Careful Listening