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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo Read Online

Read Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo full novel online for free.

1 Retvenko

R etvenko leaned against the bar and tucked his nose into his dirty shot glass. The whiskey had failed to warm him. Nothing could get you warm in this Saintsforsaken city. And there was no escaping the smell, the throat-choking stew of bilge, clams, and wet stone that seemed to have soaked into his pores as if he’d been steeping in the city’s essence like the world’s worst cup of tea.

It was most noticeable in the Barrel, even more so in a miserable dump like this one—a squat tavern wedged into the lower floor of one of the slum’s grimmest apartment buildings, its ceiling bowed by weather and shoddy construction, its beams blackened by soot from a fireplace that had long since ceased to function, the flue clogged by debris. The floor was covered in sawdust to soak up spilled lager, vomit, and whatever else the bar’s patrons lost control of. Retvenko wondered how long it had been since the boards had been swept clean. He buried his nose more deeply in the glass, inhaling the sweet perfume of bad whiskey. It made his eyes water.

“You’re supposed to drink it, not snort it,” said the barkeep with a laugh.

Retvenko put his glass down and gazed at the man blearily. He was thick necked and barrel chested, a real bruiser. Retvenko had seen him toss more than one rowdy patron into the street, but it was hard to take him seriously dressed in the absurd fashion favored by the young men of the Barrel—a pink shirt with sleeves that looked fit to split over huge biceps, a garish red-and-orange plaid waistcoat. He looked like a dandified soft-shell crab.

“Tell me,” said Retvenko. His Kerch wasn’t good to begin with, and it was worse after a few drinks. “Why does city smell so bad? Like old soup? Like sink full of dishes?”

The barman laughed. “That’s just Ketterdam. You get used to it.”

Retvenko shook his head. He didn’t want to get used to this city or its stink. His job with Councilman Hoede had been dull, but at least his rooms had been dry and warm. As a treasured Grisha indenture, Retvenko had been kept in comfort, his belly full. He’d cursed Hoede at the time, bored with his work shepherding the merchant’s expensive cargo shipments across the sea, resenting the terms of his contract, the foolish bargain he’d made to get himself out of Ravka after the civil war. But now? Now he couldn’t help thinking of the Grisha workshop at Hoede’s house, the fire burning merrily in the grate, brown bread served with slabs of butter and thick cuts of ham. After Hoede had died, the Kerch Merchant Council had let Retvenko take on sea voyages to pay his way out of the indenture. The money was terrible, but what other options did he have? He was a Grisha Squaller in a hostile city with no skills but the gifts with which he’d been born.