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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

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The storm had come out of nowhere, tossing the ship like a toy on the waves. The sea had played along until it had tired of the game, and dragged their boat under in a tangle of rope and sail and screaming men.

Matthias remembered the darkness of the water, the terrible cold, the silence of the deep. The next thing he knew, he was spitting up salt water, gasping for breath. Someone had an arm around his chest, and they were moving through the water. The cold was unbearable, yet somehow he was bearing it.

“Wake up, you miserable lump of muscle.” Clean Fjerdan, pure, spoken like a noble. He turned his head and was shocked to see that the young witch they’d captured on the southern coast of the Wandering Isle had hold of him and was muttering to herself in Ravkan. He’d known she wasn’t really Kaelish. Somehow she’d gotten free of her bonds and the cages. Every part of him went into a panic, and if he’d been less shocked or numb, he would have struggled.

“Move,” she told him in Fjerdan, panting. “Saints, what do they feed you? You weigh about as much as a hay cart.”

She was struggling badly, swimming for both of them. She’d saved his life. Why?

He shifted in her arms, kicking his legs to help drive them forward. To his surprise, he heard her give a low sob. “Thank the Saints,” she said. “Swim, you giant oaf.”

“Where are we?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied, and he could hear the terror in her voice.

He kicked away from her.

“Don’t!” she cried. “Don’t let go!”

But he shoved hard, breaking her hold. The moment he left her arms, the cold rushed in. The pain was sharp and sudden, and his limbs went sluggish. She’d been using her sick magic to keep him warm. He reached for her in the dark.

Drüsje?” he called, ashamed of the fear in his voice. It was the Fjerdan word for witch, but he had no name for her.

Drüskelle!” she shouted, and then he felt his fingers brush against hers in the black water. He grabbed hold and drew her to him. Her body didn’t feel warm exactly, but as soon as they made contact, the pain in his own limbs receded. He was gripped by gratitude and revulsion.

“We have to find land,” she gasped. “I can’t swim and keep both of our hearts beating.”

“I’ll swim,” he said. “You … I’ll swim.” He clasped her back to his chest, his arm looped under hers and across her body, the way she’d been holding him only moments ago, as if she were drowning. And she was, they both were, or they would be soon if they didn’t freeze to death first.

He kicked his legs steadily, trying not to expend too much energy, but they both knew it was probably futile. They hadn’t been far from land when the storm had hit, but it was completely dark. They might be headed toward the coastline or farther out to sea.