Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
“Wylan, give me a shirt from one of the bins,” Jesper said.
He tore off one of the sleeves and tossed it into the shaft. It fell soundlessly, caught flame midair, and had begun to burn away to nothing before it ever had the chance to reach the coals.
He shut the doors and tossed the remnants of the shirt back in the bin. “Well, demo is out,” he said. “We can’t take explosives in there. Can you still make the climb?” he asked Inej.
“Maybe. I don’t know.”
“What does Kaz say? Where is Kaz? And where’s Nina?”
“Kaz doesn’t know about the incinerator yet,” said Inej. “He and Nina went to search the upper cells.”
Matthias’ glower went dark as a rain-heavy sky ready to split. “Jesper and I were supposed to go with Nina.”
“Kaz didn’t want to wait.”
“We were on time,” said Matthias angrily. “What is he up to?”
Jesper wondered the same thing. “He’s going to limp up and down all those flights of stairs, dodging patrols?”
“I may have tried to point that out to him,” Inej said. “Always surprising, remember?”
“Like a hive of bees. I really hope we’re not all about to get stung.”
“Inej,” Wylan called from one of the rolling bins. “These are our clothes.”
He reached in and, one after the other, pulled out Inej’s little leather slippers.
Her face broke into a dazzling smile. Finally, a bit of luck. Kaz didn’t have his cane. Jesper didn’t have his guns. And Inej didn’t have her knives. But at least she had those magic slippers.
“What do you say, Wraith? Can you make the climb?”
Jesper took the shoes from Wylan. “If I didn’t think these might be crawling with disease, I would kiss them and then you.”
Nina trailed Kaz up the stairs. Flight upon steep flight of stone and flickering gaslight. She watched him closely. He was setting a good pace, but his gait was stiff. Why had he insisted on being the one to make this climb? It couldn’t be a question of time, so maybe it was what Kaz always intended. Maybe he’d meant to keep some bit of information from Matthias. Or he was just determined to keep them all guessing.
They paused at every landing, listening for patrols. The prison was full of sounds, and it was hard not to jump at every one of them—voices floating down the stairwell, the metallic clang of doors opening and closing. Nina thought of the violent chaos of Hellgate, bribes changing hands, blood staining the sand, a world away from this sterile place. The Fjerdans could certainly be counted on to keep things orderly.
On their way up the fourth flight, voices and boot steps suddenly burst into the stairwell. Hurriedly, Nina and Kaz backtracked to the third-floor landing and slipped through the door leading to the cells. The prisoner in the cell nearest to them started to shout. Nina quickly raised a hand and squeezed his airway shut. He stared at her, eyes bulging, clawing at his neck. She dropped his pulse, sending him into unconsciousness as she released the pressure on his larynx, allowing him to breathe. They needed him quiet, not dead.