Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
They used a doubled segment of rope and the grappling hook to cross to the roof of the drüskelle sector. Wylan had to be looped into a sling, but Jesper and Kaz moved easily across the rope, hand over hand, with unnerving speed. Matthias approached with more caution, and though he didn’t show it, he did not like the way the rope creaked and bowed with his own weight.
The others pulled him onto the stone of the drüskelle roof, and as Matthias stood, he was struck by a wave of vertigo. More than any place in the Ice Court, more than any place in the world, this felt like home to him. But it was home turned on its head, his life viewed at the wrong angle. Peering into the dark, he saw the massive pyramid skylights that marked the roof. He had the disconcerting sense that if he looked through the glass he would see himself running drills in the training rooms, seated at the long table in the dining hall.
In the distance, he heard the wolves barking and yapping in their kennel by the gatehouse, wondering where their masters had gone for the night. Would they recognize him if he approached with an outstretched hand? He wasn’t sure he recognized himself. On the northern ice, his choices had seemed clear. But now his thoughts were muddied with these thugs and thieves, with Inej’s courage and Jesper’s daring, and with Nina, always Nina. He couldn’t deny the relief he’d felt when she’d emerged from the incinerator shaft, disheveled and gasping, frightened but alive. When he and Wylan had pulled her out of the flue, he’d had to force himself to let her go.
No, he would not look through those skylights. He could afford no more weakness, especially on this night. It was time to move forward.
They reached the lip of the roof overlooking the ice moat. From here it looked solid, its surface polished bright as a mirror and illuminated by the guard towers on the White Island. But the moat’s waters were ever shifting, concealed only by a wafer-thin skin of frost.
Kaz secured another coil of rope to the roof’s edge and prepared to rappel down to the shore.
“You know what to do,” he said to Jesper and Wylan. “Eleven bells and not before.”
“When have I ever been early?” asked Jesper.
Kaz braced himself for the descent and vanished over the side. Matthias followed, hands gripping the rope, bare feet pressed against the wall. When he glanced up, he saw Wylan and Jesper gazing down at him. But the next time he looked, they were gone.
The shore surrounding the ice moat was little more than a slender, slippery rind of white stone. Kaz perched there, pressed against the wall and frowning out at the moat.
“How do we cross? I don’t see anything.”
“Because you are not worthy.”
“I’m also not nearsighted. There’s nothing there.”
Matthias began edging along the wall, running his hand over the stone at hip level. “On Hringkälla the drüskelle finish our initiation,” he said. “We go from aspirant to novice drüskelle in the ceremony at the sacred ash.”