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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“I think I do. I haven’t seen my home in a long time.”

Kaz turned away and began chatting with Jesper. He seemed to do that whenever she mentioned going back to Ravka. Of course, Inej couldn’t be certain she’d find her parents there. Suli were travelers. For them, “home” really just meant family.

“Are you worried about Nina being out there?” Inej asked.

“No.”

“She’s very good at this, you know. She’s a natural actress.”

“I’m aware,” he said grimly. “She can be anything to anyone.”

“She’s best when she’s Nina.”

“And who is that?”

“I suspect you know better than any of us.”

He crossed his huge arms. “She’s brave,” he said grudgingly.

“And funny.”

“Foolish. Every last thing needn’t be a joke.”

“Bold,” Inej said.

“Loud.”

“So why do your eyes keep searching the crowd for her?”

“They do not,” Matthias protested. She had to laugh at the ferocity of his scowl. He drew a finger through a pile of crumbs. “Nina is everything you say. It’s too much.”

“Mmm,” Inej murmured, taking a sip from her mug. “Maybe you’re just not enough.”

Before he could reply, the bell on the bakery door jingled, and Nina sailed inside, cheeks rosy, brown hair in a gorgeous tangle, and declared, “Someone needs to start feeding me sweet rolls immediately.”

For all Matthias’ grumbling, Inej didn’t think she imagined the relief on his face.

*   *   *

 

It had taken Nina less than an hour to discover that most of the prison wagons passed by a roadhouse known as the Warden’s Waystation on the route to the Ice Court. Inej and the others had to trek almost two miles out of Upper Djerholm to locate the tavern. It was too crowded with farmers and local laborers to be useful, so they headed farther up the road, and by the time they found a spot with enough cover and a stand of trees large enough to suit their purpose, Inej felt close to collapse. She thanked her Saints for Jesper’s seemingly limitless energy. He cheerfully volunteered to continue on and be the lookout. When the prison cart rolled by, he’d signal the rest of the crew with a flare, then sprint back to join them.

Nina took a few minutes to tailor Jesper’s forearm, hiding the Dregs’ tattoo and leaving a blotchy patch of skin over it. She would see to Kaz’s tattoos and her own that night. It was possible no one at the prison would recognize Ketterdam gang or brothel markings, but there was no reason to take the chance.

“No mourners,” Jesper called as he loped off into the twilight, long legs eating up the distance easily.

“No funerals,” they replied. Inej sent a real prayer along with him, too. She knew Jesper was well armed and could take care of himself, but between his lanky frame and Zemeni skin, he was just too noticeable for comfort.

They camped in a dry gully bordered by a tangle of shrubs, and took shifts dozing on the hard rock ground and keeping watch. Despite her fatigue, Inej hadn’t thought she would be able to sleep, but the next thing she knew, the sun was high above them, a bright pocket of glare in an overcast sky. It had to be past noon. Nina was beside her with a piece of one of the pepper wolf cookies she’d bought in Upper Djerholm. Inej saw that someone had made a low fire, and the sticky remnants of a block of melted paraffin were visible in its ashes.