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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“Yes,” said Matthias in exasperation. “There’s another way to the White Island. But it’s messy.” He glanced at Nina. “And it certainly can’t be done in a gown.”

“Hold on,” Jesper interrupted. “Who cares if you can all get onto the White Island? Let’s say Nina sparkles Yul-Bayur’s location out of some Fjerdan higher-up, and you get him back here. We’ll be trapped. By then, the prison guards will have completed their search and are going to know six inmates got out of the sector somehow. Any chance we have of making it through the embassy gates and the checkpoints will be gone.”

Kaz peered past the dome to the embassy’s open courtyard and the ringwall gatehouse beyond.

“Wylan, how hard would it be to disable one of these gates?”

“To get it open?”

“No, to keep it closed.”

“You mean break it?” Wylan shrugged. “I don’t think it would be too difficult. I couldn’t see the mechanism when we entered the prison gate, but from the layout, I’m guessing it’s pretty standard.”

“Pulleys, cogs, some really big screws?”

“Well, yes, and a sizable winch. The cables wrap around it like a big spool, and the guards just turn it with some kind of handle or wheel.”

“I know how a winch works. Can you take one apart?”

“I think so, but it’s the alarm system the cables are attached to that’s complicated. I doubt I could do it without triggering Black Protocol.”

“Good,” said Kaz. “Then that’s what we’ll do.”

Jesper held up a hand. “I’m sorry, isn’t Black Protocol the thing we want to avoid at all costs?”

“I do seem to remember something about certain doom,” said Nina.

“Not if we use it against them. Tonight, most of the Court’s security is concentrated on the White Island and right here at the embassy. When Black Protocol sounds, the glass bridge will shut down, trapping all those guards on the island along with the guests.”

“But what about Matthias’ route off the island?” asked Nina.

“They can’t move a major force that way,” Matthias conceded. “At least not quickly.”

Kaz gazed out at the White Island, head tilted, eyes slightly unfocused.

“Scheming face,” Inej murmured.

Jesper nodded. “Definitely.”

She was going to miss that look.

“Three gates in the ringwall,” Kaz said. “The prison gate is already locked up tight because of Yellow Protocol. The embassy gate is a bottleneck crammed with guests—the Fjerdans aren’t going to get troops through there. Jesper, that just leaves the gate in the drüskelle sector for you and Wylan to handle. You use it to engage Black Protocol, then wreck it. Break it badly enough that any guards who manage to mobilize can’t get out to follow us.”

“I’m all for locking the Fjerdans in their own fortress,” said Jesper. “Truly. But how do we get out? Once we trigger Black Protocol, you guys will be trapped on that island, and we’ll be trapped in the outer circle. We have no weapons and no demo materials.”