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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“I do like cake, but we’re not permitted sweets.”

“Anyone? Or just drüskelle?”

Drüskelle. It’s considered an indulgence. Like alcohol or—”

“Girls?”

His cheeks reddened, and he trudged forward. It was just so easy to make him uncomfortable.

“If you’re not allowed sugar or alcohol, you’d probably really love pomdrakon.”

He hadn’t taken the bait at first, just walked on, but finally the quiet proved too much for him. “What’s pomdrakon?”

“Dragonbowl,” Nina said eagerly. “First you soak raisins in brandy, and then you turn off the lights and set them on fire.”

“Why?”

“To make it hard to grab them.”

“What do you do once you have them?”

“You eat them.”

“Don’t they burn your tongue?”

“Sure but—”

“Then why would you—”

“Because it’s fun, dummy. You know, ‘fun’? There’s a word for it in Fjerdan so you must be familiar with the term.”

“I have plenty of fun.”

“All right, what do you do for fun?”

And that was the way they went on, sniping at each other, just like that first night in the water, keeping each other alive, refusing to acknowledge that they were growing weaker, that if they didn’t find a real town soon, they weren’t going to last much longer. There were days when their hunger and the glare off the northern ice had them moving in circles, backtracking, faltering over their own steps, but they never spoke of it, never said the word lost, as if they both knew that would somehow be admitting defeat.

“Why don’t Fjerdans let girls fight?” she asked him one night as they’d lain curled beneath a lean-to, the cold palpable through the skins they’d laid on the ground.

“They don’t want to fight.”

“How do you know? Have you ever asked one?”

“Fjerdan women are to be venerated, protected.”

“That’s probably a wise policy.”

He’d known her well enough by then to be surprised. “It is?”

“Think how embarrassing it would be for you when you got trounced by a Fjerdan girl.”

He snorted.

“I’d love to see you get beaten by a girl,” she said happily.

“Not in this lifetime.”

“Well, I guess I won’t get to see it. I’ll just get to live the moment when I knock you on your ass.”

This time he did laugh, a proper laugh that she could feel through her back.

“Saints, Fjerdan, I didn’t know you could laugh. Careful now, take it slow.”

“I enjoy your arrogance, drüsje.”

Now she laughed. “That may be the worst compliment I’ve received.”

“Do you never doubt yourself?”

“All the time,” she’d said as she slid into sleep. “I just don’t show it.”

The next morning, they picked their way across an ice field splintered by jagged crevasses, keeping to the solid expanses between the deadly rifts, and arguing about Nina’s sleeping habits.

“How can you call yourself a soldier? You’d sleep until noon if I let you.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Discipline. Routine. Does it mean nothing to you? Djel, I can’t wait to have a bed to myself again.”