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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Wylan stamped his boots. “Maybe because it already feels like our feet are going to freeze off.”

“When we get our money, you can burn kruge to keep you warm,” said Kaz. “Let’s go.” He’d left his crow’s head cane aboard the Ferolind and substituted a less conspicuous walking stick. Jesper had mournfully left behind his prized pearl-handled revolvers in favor of a pair of unornamented guns, and Inej had done the same with her extraordinary set of knives and daggers, keeping only those she could bear to part with when they entered the prison. Practical choices, but Matthias knew that talismans had their power.

Jesper consulted his compass, and they turned south, seeking a path that would lead them to the main trading road. “I’m going to pay someone to burn my kruge for me.”

Kaz fell into step beside him. “Why don’t you pay someone else to pay someone to burn your kruge for you? That’s what the big players do.”

“You know what the really big bosses do? They pay someone to pay someone to…”

Their voices trailed off as they tromped ahead, and Matthias and the others followed after. But he noticed that each of them cast a final backward glance at the vanishing Ferolind. The schooner was a part of Kerch, a piece of home for them, and that last familiar thing was drifting farther away with every moment.

Matthias felt some small measure of sympathy, but as they trekked through the morning, he had to admit he enjoyed seeing the canal rats shiver and struggle a bit for once. They thought they knew cold, but the white north had a way of forcing strangers to reevaluate their terms. They stumbled and staggered, awkward in their new boots, trying to find the trick of walking in hard-crusted snow, and soon Matthias was in the lead, setting the pace, though Jesper kept a steady eye on his compass.

“Put your…” Matthias paused and had to gesture to Wylan. He didn’t know the Kerch word for “goggles” or even “snow,” for that matter. They weren’t terms that came up in prison. “Keep your eyes covered, or you could damage them permanently.” Men went blind this far north; they lost lips, ears, noses, hands, and feet. The land was barren and brutal, and that was all most people saw. But to Matthias it was beautiful. The ice bore the spirit of Djel. It had color and shape and even a scent if you knew to seek it out.

He pushed ahead, feeling almost at peace, as if here Djel could hear him and ease his troubled mind. The ice brought back memories of childhood, of hunting with his father. They’d lived farther south, near Halmhend, but in the winters that part of Fjerda didn’t look much different from this, a world of white and gray, broken by groves of black-limbed trees and jutting clusters of rock that seemed to have risen up from nowhere, shipwrecks on a bare ocean floor.