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His mind briefly drifted to Nassi, the Portuguese exile who goaded the Padishah to attack Venice, which expelled the Jews who fled the Inquisition. Nassi was a smart man. But Spain was the root of his people’s misery, not Venice. In the long run, it would be far wiser to ally with Venice against Spain. He wondered if Nassi would have the same attitude if he were a Muslim and not a Jew.

He scowled. The Padishah did not really need encouragement. He loved his Cyprus wine, despite the Prophet’s prohibition, and disliked having to pay for it.

Mehmed looked to the stone path leading out of the shipyard grounds. He had an appointment soon. Ibrahim loyally followed him into a small, disreputable-looking coffee-shop nearby.

In the rear of the dark, largely deserted establishment sat Jalal. A small, dark-haired man, he reclined on a cushion in the corner, reading one of his strange books. Mehmed wondered what those books contained — he’d gotten a glimpse once and all he remembered was the word “Necronomicon” — but as long as Jalal served him well, he did not question his hobbies.

As-Salâmu aleykum, Pasha,” Jalal greeted his employer. He kissed Mehmed’s hands and touched them to his forehead.

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