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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

The gate between the rampant wolves was wrought iron, bearing the symbol of the sacred ash and bordered by a high, spiked fence that circled the Ice Court’s grounds.

“Four guards,” she noted, just as Matthias had said. Two were stationed on each side of the gatehouse, and one of them was chatting with the driver of the prison wagon, who handed him a packet of documents.

“They’re the first line of defense,” said Matthias. “They’ll check paperwork and confirm identities, flag anyone they think requires closer scrutiny. By this time tomorrow the line going through the gates will be full of Hringkälla guests and backed up all the way to the gorge.”

“By then we’ll be inside,” Kaz said.

“How often do the wagons run?” asked Jesper.

“It depends,” said Matthias. “Usually in the morning. Sometimes in the afternoon. But I can’t imagine they’ll want prisoners arriving at the same time as guests.”

“Then we have to be on the early wagon,” Kaz said.

Inej lifted the backless book again. The wagon driver wore a gray uniform similar to the ones worn by the guards at the gate but absent any sash or decoration. He swung down from his seat and came around to unlock the iron door.

“Saints,” Inej said as the door swung open. Ten prisoners were seated along benches that ran the wagon’s length, their wrists and feet shackled, black sacks over their heads.

Inej handed the book back to Matthias, and as it made the rounds, Inej felt the group’s apprehension rise. Only Kaz seemed unfazed.

“Hooded, chained, and shackled?” said Jesper. “You’re sure we can’t go in as entertainers? I hear Wylan really kills it on the flute.”

“We go in as we are,” said Kaz, “as criminals.”

Nina peered through the lenses of the book. “They’re doing a head count.”

Matthias nodded. “If procedure hasn’t changed, they’ll do a quick head count at the first checkpoint, then a second count at the next checkpoint, where they’ll search the interior and undercarriage for any contraband.”

Nina passed the book to Inej. “The driver is going to notice six more prisoners when he opens the door.”

“If only I’d thought of that,” Kaz said drily. “I can tell you’ve never picked a pocket.”

“And I can tell you’ve never given enough thought to your haircut.”

Kaz frowned and ran a self-conscious hand along the side of his head. “There’s nothing wrong with my haircut that can’t be fixed by four million kruge.”

Jesper cocked his head to one side, gray eyes alight. “We’re going to use a bunk biscuit, aren’t we?”

“Exactly.”

“I don’t know that word, bunkbiscuit,” said Matthias, running the syllables together.

Nina gave Kaz a sour look. “Neither do I. We’re not as streetwise as you, Dirtyhands.”

“Nor will you ever be,” Kaz said easily. “Remember our friend Mark?” Wylan winced. “Let’s say the mark is a tourist walking through the Barrel. He’s heard it’s a good place to get rolled, so he keeps patting his wallet, making sure it’s there, congratulating himself on just how alert and cautious he’s being. No fool he. Of course every time he pats his back pocket or the front of his coat, what is he doing? He’s telling every thief on the Stave exactly where he keeps his scrub.”