Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
She was not a lynx or a spider or even the Wraith. She was Inej Ghafa, and her future was waiting above.
Kaz sped through the upper cells, sparing brief seconds for a glance through each grate. Bo Yul-Bayur would not be here. And he didn’t have much time.
Part of him felt unhinged. He had no cane. His feet were bare. He was in strange clothes, his hands pale and ungloved. He didn’t feel like himself at all. No, that wasn’t quite true. He felt like the Kaz he’d been in the weeks after Jordie had died, like a wild animal, fighting to survive.
Kaz spotted a Shu prisoner lurking at the back of one of the cells.
“Sesh–uyeh,” Kaz whispered. But if the man recognized the code word, he didn’t acknowledge it. “Yul-Bayur?” Nothing. The man started shouting at him in Shu, and Kaz hurried away, past the rest of the cells, then slipped out to the landing and charged down to the next level as fast as he could manage. He knew he was being reckless, selfish, but wasn’t that why they called him Dirtyhands? No job too risky. No deed too low. Dirtyhands would see the rough work done.
He wasn’t sure what was driving him. It was possible Pekka Rollins wasn’t here. It was possible he was dead. But Kaz didn’t believe it. I’d know. Somehow I’d know. “Your death belongs to me,” he whispered.
* * *
The swim back from the Reaper’s Barge had been Kaz’s rebirth. The child he’d been had died of firepox. The fever had burned away every gentle thing inside him.
Survival wasn’t nearly as hard as he’d thought once he left decency behind. The first rule was to find someone smaller and weaker and take what he had. Though—small and weak as Kaz was—that was no easy task. He shuffled up from the harbor, keeping to the alleys, heading toward the neighborhood where the Hertzoons had lived. When he spotted a sweetshop, he waited outside, then waylaid a chubby little schoolboy lagging behind his friends. Kaz knocked him down, emptied his pockets, and took his bag of licorice.
“Give me your trousers,” he’d said.
“They’re too big for you,” the boy had cried.
Kaz bit him. The boy gave up his trousers. Kaz rolled them in a ball and threw them in the canal, then ran as fast as his weak legs would take him. He didn’t want the trousers; he just wanted the boy to wait before he went wailing for help. He knew the schoolboy would huddle in that alley for a long while, weighing the shame of appearing half-dressed in the street with the need to get home and tell what had happened.
Kaz stopped running when he reached the darkest alley he could find in the Barrel. He crammed all the licorice into his mouth at once, swallowing it in painful gulps, and promptly vomited it up. He took the money and bought a hot roll of white bread. He was barefoot and filthy. The baker gave him a second roll just to stay away.