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The Heretic's Daughter by M Lynes Book

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The Heretic's Daughter by M Lynes Book Read Online And Epub File Download

Overview: Isaac seeks revenge on Torquemada for the murder of his wife and best friend. But he’s not the only one who wants The Grand Inquisitor dead. The King commands Isaac to investigate. If Isaac successfully prevents the assassination, he saves the man he hates. Fail and he will lose the King’s protection: the only thing keeping a heretic like Isaac from the terror of the Inquisition. After a perilous journey to Granada, he confronts both Torquemada and the truth about himself.

Conflicted by her father’s heresy and distressed by his quest for vengeance, Isabel sets out to discover the truth. Feeling abandoned by her father, the trail takes her to the darkest places in Seville. She is unnerved by a shocking revelation and a surprising discovery about her real feelings. Can Isabel use what she has unearthed to save her father and their family? 

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The Heretic's Daughter by M Lynes Book Read Online Chapter One

Abu Ali Sina, the apothecary, began his morning ritual by kneeling to light the nuggets of oud on the incense burner. Crackling and sparking, they released their heavy, woody fragrance. Inhaling the smoke, he stood and stretched his tall, slender frame. The scent always brought Khadijah to mind, and he whispered a prayer for his wife’s soul.

He kept the incense burner behind the counter; the Catholics did not appreciate the Mudéjar’s perfume. He would have ten running all day, but that would be provocative. He could not afford to lose Catholic patrons; there were not enough Mudéjars left in Seville to keep his business alive. And there were no Jews left at all. He didn’t want to run away to Granada, as so many of his friends had. It was easier to worship Allah there. But he would have to close the shop that had been in his family for five generations. He did not want that guilt.

Surveying the rows of orange and blue earthenware jars filling the tall mahogany shelves behind the counter, he took a mental stocktake. Enough cumin, anise and horehound, but mandrake root was very low. He normally prescribed it to ease stomach-ache, but perhaps its other use as an aphrodisiac was causing the high demand? The large glass jar on the counter was still full of slippery, copper-coloured leeches. Was blood-letting falling out of fashion?

The rasp of the shop door announced the day’s first customer. A tall, cloaked figure moved through the deep shadows, disturbing motes of dust. Ali Sina had only lit a few candles; he had to save what little money remained. Besides, nobody usually came in this early.

‘Good morning, apothecary,’ came a deep growl from the half-light.

‘Good morning. You’re most welcome, señor.’

The man’s wide-brimmed hat hid most of his face. Ali Sina could make out a beard and the glint of perhaps blue eyes. He looked familiar, but the apothecary didn’t think he had visited the shop before.

The man wrinkled his nose. ‘Couldn’t you burn some orange or lavender? Can’t stand that Moorish smell.’

‘I’m sorry, señor. I rarely have customers this early.’

The man ignored the apology and looked up at the jars. Ali Sina followed his eyes, trying to guess what he was looking for. Perhaps some sage or chamomile to ease his digestion? The man coughed. Ah, a cold?

‘I need something for my chest, it’s very heavy.’ He coughed again, louder this time, as if to emphasise the point.

The apothecary reached for an orange jar decorated with a complex geometric pattern. Setting it down next to the pestle and mortar, he measured a precise quantity of white powder on a brass weighing pan, tipped it into a square of cloth, twisting it closed with twine.

‘Put a pinch of this hyssop into a glass of wine twice a day. You will feel better within two or three days.’ The apothecary placed the small parcel on the counter.

The man rummaged in the leather pouch hanging from his belt, put twenty maravedies on the counter, pocketed the cure, but did not leave.

‘Can I help the señor with another remedy?’

‘Yes, I would like some arsenic.’

‘Some arsenic?’

The man gave a curt nod.

The apothecary hesitated. ‘Señor, I’m required by the authorities to enquire for what purpose?’

‘Of course, it would be remiss of you not to ask. I need it for vermin.’

Ali Sina held the man’s eyes for a few moments. The sun had crept into the shop and he could now definitely see glints of blue glimmer in the man’s unblinking, pale eyes.

‘We have a problem with rats. It’s the only thing that keeps them at bay.’ He moved his right hand to cover the grip of the rapier sheathed at his side.

The apothecary pushed a set of wooden steps that ran on wheels to the end of the counter. Climbing to the top, he reached for one of the highest jars. It was covered in a blue leaf design, a beautiful container for such a vile substance. Placing it on the counter, he cautiously removed the stopper. There was no scent – arsenic was both odourless and tasteless. The ideal poison. He tipped out a small pyramid of the shiny, silver-grey crystal into the weighing pan. He glanced at the man, who raised his index finger to signal a larger quantity. The apothecary doubled the amount; the man nodded. He poured the crystals into a glass vial and stoppered it with wax. The man reached into his leather pouch and placed one hundred maravedies on the counter, double what the apothecary would have charged. Ali Sina took half of the money and pushed the rest back. The man gave a sardonic grin as he scooped up the coins and returned them to his pouch.

Ali Sina kept hold of the vial.

The man stared at him.

‘I will have to insist you sign the register for the arsenic, señor. It is a requirement of the authorities.’

‘The authorities?’ The man rolled his eyes.

He moved the vial down to his side. With his right hand he opened a large book, took a quill pen, and wrote the date and the amount of arsenic provided. He held out the pen. The man grabbed it, scrawled a signature, and slammed the register shut. Ali Sina placed the vial in the man’s outstretched hand.

‘Thank you, apothecary. If the rats prove stubborn, I trust you have plenty more?’

The apothecary narrowed his eyes. ‘You already have enough arsenic to kill a hundred rats, señor.’

‘Seville is teeming with vermin of all varieties. Some larger than others.’ He arched an eyebrow and grinned.

‘I have already given you the maximum quantity regulations allow. Señor.’

‘Damn the regulations,’ said the man as he again touched the grip of his rapier.

‘As an apothecary, I have to abide by them. I’m sure you can understand.’

‘How is business?’ the man said, turning to survey the empty shop.

Ali Sina did not respond.

‘You must be the last of your kind left in Seville?’

‘If you mean the last apothecary, then yes, I am.’

‘All the other Moors have run off to Granada.’ He scowled. ‘You’re very brave to stay.’

‘Thank you, señor.’

‘Or perhaps, stupid.’

He forced himself to remain silent.

‘That front door of yours is not secure. It would be a great shame were anyone to enter while you were asleep and vandalise your fine establishment. Or perhaps even harm your good self.’

Ali Sina tapped the stopper of the jar of arsenic and held the man’s gaze. ‘It’s been a pleasure to help you this morning, señor. I look forward to your return.’

The man grunted in apparent satisfaction and turned to leave. He ducked under the lintel and left the door ajar behind him. Ali Sina opened the register of poisonous substances. The signature would have been difficult to decipher, even without the ink being smeared by the man closing the book so violently. Was that an A? But why write his real name? At least there was a record of the date and a description of the man in his mind. That might prove useful should a poisoning occur that the authorities investigated. He was sure it was not the last he would see of the stranger. He would need to be prepared. Perhaps Isaac knew the man and could advise the best way to handle the situation. He had many contacts in his position as adviser to King Ferdinand. His old friend would know what to do.

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