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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Finally, one of the prison guards sighed and signaled to his cohorts. “Diveskemen.”

“Go on,” Nina translated, and then continued as the guard spoke. “Take them to the east block and let the next shift sort them out.”

Kaz allowed himself the briefest sigh of relief.

As anticipated, guards split the group into men and women, then led both rows, chains jangling, through a nearly round archway fashioned in the shape of a wolf’s open mouth.

They entered a chamber where an old woman sat with her hands chained, flanked by guards. Her eyes were vacant. As each prisoner approached, the woman gripped his or her wrist.

A human amplifier. Kaz knew Nina had worked with them when she’d been scouring the Wandering Isle for Grisha to join the Second Army. They could sense Grisha power by touch, and he’d seen them hired on at high-stakes card games to make sure none of the players were Grisha. Someone who could tamper with another player’s pulse or even raise the temperature in a room had an unfair advantage. But the Fjerdans used them for a different purpose—to make sure no Grisha breached their walls without being identified.

Kaz watched Nina approach. He could see her trembling as she held out her arm. The woman clamped her fingers around Nina’s wrist. Her eyelids stuttered briefly. Then she dropped Nina’s hand and waved her along.

Had she known and not cared? Or had the paraffin they’d used to encase Nina’s forearms worked?

As they were led through an arch on the left, Kaz glimpsed Inej disappearing into the opposite arch with the other female prisoners. He felt a twinge in his chest, and with a disturbing jolt, he realized it was panic. She’d been the one to wake him from his stupor in the cart. Her voice had brought him back from the dark; it had been the tether he gripped and used to drag himself back to some semblance of sanity.

The male prisoners were led clanking up a dark flight of stairs to a metal walkway. On their left was the smooth white bulk of the ringwall. To their right the walkway overlooked a vast glass enclosure, nearly a quarter mile long and tall enough to comfortably fit a trading ship. It was lit by a huge iron lantern that hung from the ceiling like a glowing cocoon. Looking down, Kaz saw rows of heavily armored wagons capped by domed gun turrets. Their wheels were large and linked by a thick tread. On each wagon, a massive gun barrel—somewhere between the shape of a rifle and a cannon—jutted out into the space where a team of horses would ordinarily be hitched.

“What are those things?” he whispered.

Torvegen,” Matthias said under his breath. “They don’t need horses to pull them. They were still perfecting the design when I left.”

“No horses?”

“Tanks,” murmured Jesper. “I saw prototypes when I was working with a gunsmith in Novyi Zem. Multiple guns in the turret, and that big barrel out in front? Serious firepower.”