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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

She lifted her hands. “How about I crack your skull open like a robin’s egg?”

“You don’t want a look at what’s inside my head, Nina dear.”

She took a step forward, but Matthias moved in front of her.

“Stop,” he said. “I’ll do it. I’ll help you dig the grave.” Nina stared at him. He took a pick from his gear and handed it to her, then took another from Jesper’s pack. “Head due south from here,” he said to the others. “I know the terrain, and I’ll make sure we catch up to you by nightfall. We’ll move faster on our own.”

Kaz looked at him steadily. “Just remember that pardon, Helvar.”

“Are we sure it’s a good idea to leave them alone?” Wylan asked as they moved down the slope.

“No,” replied Inej.

“But we’re still doing it?”

“We trust them now or we trust them later,” Kaz said.

“Are we going to talk about Matthias’ little revelation about Nina’s loyalties?” asked Jesper.

Nina could just make out Kaz’s reply: “Pretty sure most of us don’t have ‘stalwart’ or ‘true’ checked off on our résumés.” For all that she wanted to pummel Kaz, she couldn’t help being a bit grateful, too.

Matthias walked a few steps away from Nestor’s body. He heaved the pick into the icy earth, wrenched it free, plunged it in again.

“Here?” Nina asked.

“Do you want him elsewhere?”

“I … I don’t know.” She gazed out at the fields of white, marked by sparse groves of birch. “It all looks the same to me.”

“You know our gods?”

“Some,” she said.

“But you know Djel.”

“The wellspring.”

Matthias nodded. “The Fjerdans believe all the world is connected through its waters—the seas, the ice, the rivers and streams, the rain and storms. All feed Djel and are fed by him. When we die, we call it felöt-objer, taking root. We become as roots of the ash tree, drinking from Djel wherever we are laid.”

“Is that why you burn Grisha instead of burying them?”

He paused, then gave a brief nod.

“But you’ll help me lay Nestor and the Squaller to rest here?”

He nodded again.

She took hold of the other pick and attempted to match his swing. The ground was hard and unyielding. Every time the pick struck the earth it sent a rattling jolt up her arms.

“Nestor shouldn’t have been able to do that,” she said, her thoughts still churning. “No Grisha can use power that way. It’s all wrong.”

He was quiet for a moment, and then he said, “Do you understand a little better now? What it’s like to face a power so alien? To face an enemy with such unnatural strength?”

Nina tightened her hold on the pick. Nestor in the grip of parem had seemed like a perversion of everything she loved about her power. Was that what Matthias and the other Fjerdans saw in Grisha? Power beyond explanation, the natural world undone?

“Maybe.” It was the most she could offer.