Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Nina folded her arms. “If I have to cross to the White Island alone, I will.”
“That may not be an option,” said Matthias. “Look.”
They gathered around the base of the glass dome. The rotunda below was a mass of people, drinking, laughing, greeting each other, a kind of raucous party before the celebrations on the White Island.
As they watched, a group of new guards pushed into the room, trying to form the crowd into lines.
“They’re adding another checkpoint,” Matthias said. “They’re going to review everyone’s identification again before they allow people access to the glass bridge.”
“Because of Yellow Protocol?” asked Jesper.
“Probably. A precaution.”
It was like seeing the last bit of their luck drain from a glass.
“Then that decides it,” said Jesper. “We cut our losses and try to get out now.”
“I know a way,” Inej said quietly. They all turned to look at her. The yellow light from the dome pooled in her dark eyes. “We can get through that checkpoint and onto the White Island.” She pointed below to where two groups of people had entered the rotunda from the gatehouse courtyard and were shaking the mist from their clothes. The girls from the House of the Blue Iris were easily identified by the color of their gowns and the flowers displayed in their hair and at their necklines. And no one could mistake the men of the Anvil—extensive tattoos on proud display, arms bare despite the chilly weather. “The West Stave delegations have started to arrive. We can get in.”
“Inej—” said Kaz.
“Nina and I can get inside,” she continued. Her back was straight, her tone steady. She looked like someone facing the firing squad and saying damn the blindfolds. “We enter with the Menagerie.”
EIGHT BELLS AND HALF CHIME
Kaz was watching her intently, his bitter coffee eyes glittering in the light from the dome.
“You know those costumes,” she said. “Heavy cloaks, hoods. That’s all the Fjerdans will see. A Zemeni fawn. A Kaelish mare.” She swallowed and forced the next words past her lips. “A Suli lynx.” Not people, not even really girls, just lovely objects to be collected. I’ve always wanted to tumble a Zemeni girl, a customer would whisper. A Kaelish girl with red hair. A Suli girl with burnt caramel skin.
“It’s a risk,” said Kaz.
“What job isn’t?”
“Kaz, how are you and Matthias going to get through?” asked Nina. “We might need you for locks, and if things go bad on the island, I don’t want to be stranded. I doubt you can pass yourselves off as members of the Menagerie.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem,” said Kaz. “Helvar’s been holding out on us.”
“Have you?” asked Inej.
“It’s not—” Matthias dragged a hand over his cropped hair. “How do you know these things, demjin?” he growled at Kaz.
“Logic. The whole Ice Court is a masterpiece of fail-safes and doubled systems. That glass bridge is impressive, but in an emergency, there would have to be another way to get reinforcements to the White Island and get the royal family out.”