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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“I feel sorry for you, Brekker. There is nothing sacred in your life.”

There was a long pause, and then Kaz said, “You’re wrong.”

The outer wall of the White Island loomed up before them, covered in a rippling pattern of scales. It took a moment to locate the ridge of scales that hid the gate. Only a short while ago, drüskelle would have been gathered in this niche of the wall to welcome their new brothers ashore, but now it was empty, the iron grating chained. Kaz made quick work of the lock, and soon they were in a slender passage that would lead them to the gardens that backed the barracks of the royal guard.

“Were you always good at locks?”

“No.”

“How did you learn?”

“The way you learn about anything. Take it apart.”

“And the magic tricks?”

Kaz snorted. “So you don’t think I’m a demon anymore?”

“I know you’re a demon, but your tricks are human.”

“Some people see a magic trick and say, ‘Impossible!’ They clap their hands, turn over their money, and forget about it ten minutes later. Other people ask how it worked. They go home, get into bed, toss and turn, wondering how it was done. It takes them a good night’s sleep to forget all about it. And then there are the ones who stay awake, running through the trick again and again, looking for that skip in perception, the crack in the illusion that will explain how their eyes got duped; they’re the kind who won’t rest until they’ve mastered that little bit of mystery for themselves. I’m that kind.”

“You love trickery.”

“I love puzzles. Trickery is just my native tongue.”

“The gardens,” Matthias said, pointing to the hedges up ahead. “We can follow them all the way around to the ballroom.”

Just as they were about to emerge from the passage, two guards rounded the corner—both in black-and-silver drüskelle uniforms, both carrying rifles.

Perjenger!” one of them shouted in surprise. Prisoners. “Sten!”

Without thinking, Matthias said, “Desjenet, Djel comenden!” Stand down, Djel wills it so. They were the words of a drüskelle commanding officer, and he delivered them with all the authority he’d ever learned to muster.

The soldiers exchanged a confused glance. That moment of hesitation was enough. Matthias grabbed the first soldier’s rifle and head-butted him hard. The drüskelle collapsed.

Kaz slammed into the other soldier, knocking him over. The drüskelle kept hold of his rifle, but Kaz slipped behind him and brought his forearm across the soldier’s throat, applying pressure until the soldier’s eyes shut, and his head fell forward as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Kaz rolled the body off of him and stood.

The reality of the situation struck Matthias suddenly. Kaz hadn’t picked up the rifle. Matthias had a gun in his hands, and Kaz Brekker was unarmed. They were standing over the bodies of two unconscious drüskelle, men who were supposed to be Matthias’ brothers. I can shoot him, Matthias thought. Doom Nina and the rest of them with a single act. Again, Matthias had the strange sense of his life viewed the wrong way up. He was dressed in prison clothes, an intruder in the place he’d once called home. Who am I now?