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Authors: Susannah Appelbaum

The Tasters Guild

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Also by Susannah Appelbaum:

The Hollow Bettle
The Poisons of Caux, Book I

For Harper and Henry,
the Winds blow just for you

Contents

C
OVER

O
THER
B
OOKS BY THIS
A
UTHOR

T
ITLE
P
AGE

D
EDICATION

P
REVIOUSLY, IN
B
OOK
I,
The Hollow Bettle

Part I:
Templar

C
HAPTER
  1
The Calligrapher

C
HAPTER
  2
Ink

C
HAPTER
  3
Peps

C
HAPTER
  4
Thwarted

C
HAPTER
  5
The Child of the Prophecy

C
HAPTER
  6
Alewives

C
HAPTER
  7
The News

C
HAPTER
  8
The Tapestries

C
HAPTER
  9
Delivery

C
HAPTER
10
The Secret Language of Flowers

C
HAPTER
11
The Deadly Dose

C
HAPTER
12
Dumbcane’s Shop

C
HAPTER
13
C
Is for “Crow”

C
HAPTER
14
Scourge Bracken

C
HAPTER
15
The Elevator

C
HAPTER
16
Departure

C
HAPTER
17
Six

C
HAPTER
18
The Cure

C
HAPTER
19
The Charm

C
HAPTER
20
Troubled Waters

C
HAPTER
21
Foul Mood

C
HAPTER
22
A Cautionary Note

C
HAPTER
23
Fog

C
HAPTER
24
The Snodgrass Toad

C
HAPTER
25
No Vacancy

C
HAPTER
26
Rhustaphustian

C
HAPTER
27
Tribunal

C
HAPTER
28
The Gallery

C
HAPTER
29
The Cafeteria

C
HAPTER
30
Farewell

C
HAPTER
31
Springforms

C
HAPTER
32
The True Nature of Plants

C
HAPTER
33
The Uninvited Visitor

C
HAPTER
34
Peps’s Story

Part II:
Rocamadour

C
HAPTER
35
Red

C
HAPTER
36
Gripe

C
HAPTER
37
The Wall

C
HAPTER
38
Mind Garden

C
HAPTER
39
The Sewer

C
HAPTER
40
Down

C
HAPTER
41
Bitter Swill

C
HAPTER
42
The King’s Flower

C
HAPTER
43
Malapert

C
HAPTER
44
The Riddle

C
HAPTER
45
The Reply

C
HAPTER
46
Tea and Sympathy

C
HAPTER
47
Professor Breaux’s Moonlit Garden

C
HAPTER
48
The Ladder

C
HAPTER
49
The Plan

C
HAPTER
50
Something That Grows

C
HAPTER
51
Truax

C
HAPTER
52
Kingmaker

C
HAPTER
53
The Catacombs

C
HAPTER
54
Hallowed Ground

C
HAPTER
55
Capture

C
HAPTER
56
Gloamwort

C
HAPTER
57
The Final Exam

C
HAPTER
58
The Dose

C
HAPTER
59
Shadow

C
HAPTER
60
Arrivals

C
HAPTER
61
Caged Reverie

C
HAPTER
62
The Petition

C
HAPTER
63
The Chapter Room

C
HAPTER
64
Breaux’s Bouquet

C
HAPTER
65
Flight

C
HAPTER
66
Truax

C
HAPTER
67
The Crypt

C
HAPTER
68
Hallowed Ground

C
HAPTER
69
The Pimcaux Doorway

Part III:
Pimcaux

C
HAPTER
70
Not Pimcaux

C
HAPTER
71
Wilhelmina

C
HAPTER
72
A Change of Attire

C
HAPTER
73
The Ribbon Tree

C
HAPTER
74
Four Sisters

C
HAPTER
75
Six

C
HAPTER
76
Klair and Lofft

C
HAPTER
77
Thin Air

C
HAPTER
78
Clothilde

C
HAPTER
79
The Grange

C
HAPTER
80
Mr. Foxglove

C
HAPTER
81
The Masquerade

C
HAPTER
82
Reunion

C
HAPTER
83
The King

C
HAPTER
84
The Thorn

C
HAPTER
85
The Ring

C
HAPTER
86
Caucus

A
PPENDIX

A
BOUT THE
A
UTHOR

C
OPYRIGHT

Previously, in
BOOK I

THE HOLLOW BETTLE

The Deadly Nightshades were cruel and villainous rulers, and in that they took great pride. They enjoyed misery, so naturally they perpetuated mistrust and deceit among their subjects. Replacing Caux’s long traditions of scholarship and healing, King and Queen Nightshade preferred instead to use herbs to poison rather than cure. To dine in their uneasy realm of Caux was to take your very life in your hands—indeed, you were unlikely to survive your next meal without a Guild-accredited taster by your side.

Poison Ivy did not need a taster at all—she was a poisoner of some skill and therefore quite well suited to detecting it. Yet, somehow, she got not one taster—but two. The first, Sorrel Flux, tried to kill her. Flux was idle and, Ivy would soon learn, a servant of the evil forces bent on her destruction. The second, Rowan Truax, was escaping the powerful Tasters’ Guild, and its evil Director, Vidal Verjouce. But with Rowan’s help, Ivy would eventually make it to Templar—and hopefully to Pimcaux—to fulfill a secret and ancient Prophecy.

There was once a time when poison was not the way of the land. It was a time long ago—of earlier, magical kings. Caux’s wisest sages still whispered of this great Prophecy, which told of the coming of a child who would cure their King—their one, true King—the Good King Verdigris, who lay ailing in a self-imposed exile in the sisterland of Pimcaux.

The Noble Child of the Prophecy, as it turned out, was Poison Ivy, whose penchant for making exquisite and deadly poisons—with her vast knowledge of herbs—also lent itself to healing. On the run in the ancient land, Ivy and the taster Rowan were pursued by a gruesome Outrider—a tongueless servant of the Tasters’ Guild. Ivy left behind her uncle’s tavern and her beloved crow, Shoo, taking only her red bettle—a hollow jewel with the power to ward off poison.

The pair traveled deep within the ancient forests in search of her missing uncle Cecil, an apotheopath, or healer. With the help of
The Field Guide to the Poisons of Caux
, her friend Axle’s masterwork, they reached the walled city of Templar, where the Deadly Nightshades were taking refuge from the Windy Season.

There, Ivy discovered the Doorway to Pimcaux in the Nightshades’ castle—but too late. The Winds slammed it shut, leaving the corrupt Sorrel Flux and her mother, Clothilde, on the other side, and Ivy to fend off the murderous impulses of the Guild’s Director on her own.

But her hollow bettle hatched—it was in fact something of a butterfly—and, indeed, all the bettles in the land followed suit. Vidal Verjouce retreated to the Tasters’ Guild to plan his revenge while all of Caux celebrated the end of the evil Nightshade regime.

Yet there still remained the great and ancient Prophecy.

Ivy and Rowan must together enter the foreboding city of Rocamadour—and the Tasters’ Guild itself—a city that no outsider has ever successfully penetrated. There, the two must find the only other Doorway to Pimcaux.

Part I
Templar

Plants—all plants—have secrets. To unlock them is power, as the apotheopaths knew.

—The Field Guide to the Poisons of Caux
Axlerod D. Roux

Chapter One
The Calligrapher

H
emsen Dumbcane’s withered skin was pasty from a lifetime of library work. He was a sour man whose eyes had long gone rheumy and uncooperative, and he routinely wore a powerful magnifying lens clipped to his thick spectacles. He preferred his small, unobtrusive shop empty, and for most of his long career, he had only one client. But what a client he served! Hemsen Dumbcane was a master calligrapher to the secretive Tasters’ Guild—producing the majority of its inscrutable documents—trusted with its most top-secret work and given access to its very private Library.

Although it was newly unfashionable, the royal seal of King Nightshade still hung over the dusty front door of Hemsen Dumbcane’s shop, on the busy Knox bridge, right beneath the large, pointed quill indicating his trade. He figured the unpopular royal seal kept his store quiet, which was how he needed it to be in order to practice not only his calligraphy but also his more secretive, and highly lucrative, secondary trade. For
Hemsen Dumbcane was a crook of enormous proportions—stealing and forging ancient, highly valuable, and oftentimes enchanted documents from Caux’s libraries and private collections and then selling them on the black market.

Hemsen Dumbcane had been slowly relieving the land of its ancient maps and pictorials, testaments and charts of odd, indecipherable symbols for his entire career—one spanning many long years. That was a lot of missing paper, although for each he would toil to replace the original with a clever fake, copying it perfectly and returning the counterfeit undetected. Since many of the ancient tableaus were considered to be irreplaceable magical texts, Hemsen Dumbcane was distinctly responsible for the dilution of the ancient wisdom of earlier—and more respectable—kings than his most recent benefactor, King Nightshade.

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