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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

He felt along the thin stitches Nina had placed there. It hurt like hell when he popped them open and slid the pellet out. It was about the size of a raisin and slick with his blood. Nina would be using her powers to split open her own skin right now. Jesper wondered if it hurt any less than the stitches.

“Pull your shirt up over your mouth,” he told Wylan.

“What?”

“Stop being dense. You’re cuter when you’re smart.”

Wylan’s cheeks went pink. He scowled and pulled his collar up.

Jesper reached under the bench where he’d hidden the waste bucket and pulled it out.

“A storm’s coming,” Jesper said loudly in Kerch. He saw Matthias and Kaz draw their collars up. He turned his face away, pulled his shirt over his mouth, and dropped the pellet into the bucket.

There was a sizzling whoosh as a cloud of mist bloomed from the water. In seconds it had blanketed the cells, turning the air a milky green.

Wylan’s eyes were panicked above his hiked-up collar. Jesper was tempted to pretend to faint, but he settled for the effect of men toppling to the ground all around him.

Jesper waited for a count of sixty, then dropped his collar and took a tentative breath. The air still smelled sickly sweet and would leave them woozy for a bit, but the worst of it had dispersed. When the guards came through for the next head count, the prisoners would have bad headaches but not much to tell. And hopefully by then they’d be long gone.

“Was that chloro gas?”

“Definitely cuter when you’re smart. Yes, the pellet’s an enzyme-based casing filled with chloro powder. It’s harmless unless it comes into contact with any amount of ammonia. Which it just did.”

“The urine in the bucket … but what was the point? We’re still stuck in here.”

“Jesper,” Kaz said waving him over to the bars. “The clock is ticking.”

Jesper rolled his shoulders as he approached. This kind of work usually took a lot of time, particularly because he’d never had real training. He placed his hands on either side of a single bar and concentrated on locating the purest particles of ore.

“What is he doing?” asked Matthias.

“Performing an ancient Zemeni ritual,” Kaz said.

“Really?”

“No.”

A murky haze was forming between Jesper’s hands.

Wylan gasped. “Is that iron ore?”

Jesper nodded as he felt sweat break out on his brow.

“Can you dissolve the bars?”

“Don’t be an idiot,” Jesper grunted. “Do you see how thick they are?” In fact, the bar he was working on looked unchanged, but he’d pulled enough iron from it that the cloud between his hands was nearly black. He bent his fingertips, and the particles spun, whirring into a tightening spiral that grew narrower and denser.

Jesper dropped his hands, and a slender needle fell to the floor with a musical ping.

Wylan snatched it up, holding it so the light gleamed over its dull surface.