By Paul Dowswell

When Lukas Declercq is orphaned, his uncle summons him to Prague, a safe haven for Europe's maximum alchemists and usual philosophers. Uncle Anselmus is courtroom health care professional to Rudolph II, the reclusive and volatile emperor. he's additionally curator of Rudolph's strange cupboard of Curiosities, a sequence of significant rooms full of wonders and clinical marvels. As Rudolph retreats additional into his fable global, the specter of uprising hangs within the air. Dorantes, a diplomat from Spain, comes along with his daughter, Celestina, on a undertaking from Philip II to cajole Rudolph to renounce his heretical methods. quickly Lukas discovers the poor fact in the back of Dorantes's challenge. yet sinister forces have plans for Lukas too, and earlier than he can thwart the plot opposed to the emperor, Lukas needs to gamble on Celestina's loyalty so one can store his personal life.

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We will devour in part an hour. ’ She gave a bit curtsy and left. Lukas nonetheless had the recent arrivals on the fort on his brain. He questioned in the event that they might persecute him in the event that they knew approximately his father. ‘Uncle, I observed a celebration of Spanish gents arrive on the fortress this day. are you aware why they’re right here? ’ he requested. Anselmus gave a bit shrug. He didn’t appear relatively . ‘People come and move the entire time,’ he stated, ‘and from everywhere in the Empire. they could depart the next day to come or remain a 12 months. ’ He shuffled off to the kitchen and commenced to deliver plates and cutlery in. Lukas had anticipated Otka to do that. ‘Lukas,’ he stated, ‘you may well open a bottle of wine. ’ All 3 of them sat round the huge oak eating desk, tucking right into a venison stew. Lukas was once stunned while Otka joined them. Anselmus might see it in his face. ‘She cooked it. Why may still she now not take pleasure in it? ’ he acknowledged whilst she went into the kitchen to fetch a bowl of greens. whereas they ate, Anselmus talked to Lukas approximately one in every of his nice theories – that beneficial stones and crystals may remedy affliction. ‘Sapphire is the main trustworthy remedy for ague,’ he acknowledged, ‘and cornelian mitigates the warmth of the brain. ’ Lukas nodded, yet in the back of his glance of earnest curiosity he didn't have the 1st inspiration what his uncle used to be speaking approximately. Otka was once misplaced in her personal international and hummed softly among mouthfuls. Anselmus stated, ‘I am as a result of see the Emperor the next day, for his weekly exam. He additionally has a suite of invaluable gemstones he needs me to examine. ’ He paused, then additional, ‘Would you're keen on to come back with me? ’ Lukas approximately choked on his stew. other than his brush with Prague’s Grand Inquisitor in Daliborka Tower, he had by no means been within the presence of an individual extra very important than a city Justice of the Peace. ‘What could i must do, Uncle? ’ ‘Keep your mouth close. remain totally nonetheless. Do in basic terms the issues I ask you to do. are you able to deal with that? ’ Lukas gave an incredible grin. ‘And what's going to i need to put on? ’ ‘We will discover a appropriate gown for you. i'll ask Otka to chop certainly one of mine right down to measurement. ’ Lukas couldn’t think what was once occurring to him. purely the day before today he had confronted torture within the citadel dungeon. day after today he used to be going to satisfy the Emperor. . bankruptcy 9 Anselmus and Lukas arrived on the door to the Emperor’s quarters ten mins early. Lukas beloved the texture of his new silk costume. It was once a lot smoother than scratchy wool. And he was once eager about the best way the color shimmered within the gentle. He used to be additionally very apprehensive. So was once Anselmus. He used to be muttering to himself, operating over what he used to be going to claim. Lukas used to be less than strict directions to not speak. So he appeared round the gloomy citadel portal and on the mysterious crests and coats of palms that have been painted at the partitions. The fortress clock struck 11. Anselmus snapped out of his muttering trance. hopefully advancing in the direction of the nice iron and wood door, he banged its ornate silver-plated knocker with nice authority. The sound echoed throughout the stone corridors. there has been a scuffle of ft in the back of the door and the rattle of numerous locks and bolts.

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