Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
“So they think we’re a hunting party.”
“You should have let Inej do it.”
“I didn’t want to do it,” Inej said quietly. “Thank you, Jesper.”
Kaz’s jaw ticked, but he said nothing more.
“Thank you,” Nina choked out. She plunged ahead over the frozen ground, following the shape of the path through the snow. She was weeping, stumbling over the terrain. Matthias followed. There were few landmarks here, and it was easy to get turned around.
“Nina, you musn’t stray from the group—”
“That’s what you’re going back to, Helvar,” she said harshly. “That’s the country you long to serve. Does it make you proud?”
“I’ve never sent a Grisha to the pyre. Grisha are given a fair trial—”
She turned on him, goggles up, tears frozen on her cheeks.
“Then why has a Grisha never been found innocent at the end of your supposedly fair trials?”
“Because our crime is existing. Our crime is what we are.”
Matthias went quiet, and when he spoke he was caught between shame for what he was about to say and the need to speak the words, the words he’d been raised on, the words that still rang true for him. “Nina, has it ever occurred to you that maybe … you weren’t meant to exist?”
Nina’s eyes glinted green fire. She took a step toward him, and he could feel the rage radiating off her. “Maybe you’re the ones who shouldn’t exist, Helvar. Weak and soft, with your short lives and your sad little prejudices. You worship wood sprites and ice spirits who can’t be bothered to show themselves, but you see real power, and you can’t wait to stamp it out.”
“Don’t mock what you don’t understand.”
“My mockery offends you? My people would welcome your laughter in place of this barbarity.” A look of supreme satisfaction crossed her face. “Ravka is rebuilding. So is the Second Army, and when they do, I hope they give you the fair trial you deserve. I hope they put the drüskelle in shackles and make them stand to hear their crimes enumerated so the world will have an accounting of your evils.”
“If you’re so desperate to see Ravka rise, why aren’t you there now?”
“I want you to have your pardon, Helvar. I want you to be here when the Second Army marches north and overruns every inch of this wasteland. I hope they burn your fields and salt the earth. I hope they send your friends and your family to the pyre.”
“They already did, Zenik. My mother, my father, my baby sister. Inferni soldiers, your precious, persecuted Grisha, burned our village to the ground. I have nothing left to lose.”
Nina’s laugh was bitter. “Maybe your stay in Hellgate was too short, Matthias. There’s always more to lose.”
I can smell them. Nina batted at her hair and clothes as she lurched through the snow, trying not to retch. She couldn’t stop seeing those bodies, the angry red flesh peeking through their burnt black casings like banked coals. It felt like she was coated in their ashes, in the stink of burning flesh. She couldn’t take a full breath.