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Drago Nacari and Jacinta

Jacinta first catches Freize and Ishraq’s attention on the Rialto bridge, where she is entertaining a large crowd with a ball and cups game under the watchful gaze of a man who says he is her father - Drago Nacari.

Jacinta appears at first to be a lowly street performer who makes a living on the streets by moving the cups with dizzying speed until even the most diligent watcher cannot tell which cup the ball is hidden under. She is a pretty and charming young woman with brown eyes, a bright smile and a slight Parisian accent. However, appearances can be deceptive and there is much more to Jacinta than meets the eye.

The man who introduces himself as Jacinta’s father, Drago Nacari, is an extremely learned man, who has studied extensively and is fluent in many languages. He has in his possession a mysterious manuscript, filled with strange characters and unfamiliar drawings of plants. Drago is interested in showing the manuscript to Luca and Ishraq in the hopes that they will be able to help him decipher the text and illustrations.

Often referred to in whispers as 'the alchemist' Luca and the others begin to suspect that Drago may know something about the counterfeit gold coins.

The Philosophers' Stone

Discovering the philosophers’ stone, also known as the ‘water stone of the wise’, was the ultimate goal of the alchemists. The philosophers’ stone was a mythical substance that was capable of turning base metals such as lead into gold. It was also believed that the stone could produce the elixir of life, which had healing powers and could grant immortality.

Alchemy

The study of alchemy originated from the Arabic world, the word coming from the term ‘al-kimia’ which roughly translates into 'chemistry' in Arabic. An ancient philosophy that all the most educated, scientifically minded people in Europe at the time would have studied, it laid the way for elements of modern chemistry and the discovery of substances such as sulphuric acid and zinc. It was thought that the study of alchemy could bestow great power on the person who studied it.

Quote

‘Of course, we all seek the stone,’ the man said quietly. ‘The philosophers’ stone.’ ‘What is that?’ Luca asked. Drago glanced at Ishraq to see how much she knew of the stone. ‘It is the stone which changes base material to gold,’ she said quietly. ‘And water thrown on the stone when it is hot, becomes the elixir of life, it can prolong life perhaps forever, it can make the old young, it can make the sick well. It is the one thing that all alchemists hope to make. It would solve all the troubles of the world.’