Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
A large pyramid-shaped skylight looked down on what seemed to be a training room, its floor emblazoned with the drüskelle wolf’s head, the shelves lined with weapons. Through the next glass pyramid, he glimpsed a big dining hall. One wall was taken up by a massive hearth, a wolf’s head carved into the stone above it. The opposite wall was adorned by an enormous banner with no discernible pattern, a patchwork of slender strips of cloth—mostly red and blue, but some purple, too. It took Jesper a moment to understand what he was seeing.
“Saints,” he said, feeling a little sick. “Grisha colors.”
Wylan squinted. “The banner?”
“Red for Corporalki. Blue for Etherealki. Purple for Materialki. Those are pieces of the kefta that Grisha wear in battle. They’re trophies.”
“There are so many.”
Hundreds. Thousands. I would have worn purple, Jesper thought, if I’d joined the Second Army. He reached for the fizzy elation that had been bubbling through him moments before. He’d been willing, even eager to risk capture and execution as a thief and hired gun. Why was it worse to think about being hunted as a Grisha?
“Let’s keep moving.”
Just like the prison and the embassy, the gatehouse in the drüskelle sector was built around a courtyard so anyone entering could be observed and fired upon from above. But with the gate out of operation, the courtyard battlements were as deserted as the rest of the building. Here, slabs of sleek black stone were inlaid with the silver wolf’s head, the surfaces lit with eerie blue flame. It was the one part of the Ice Court he’d seen that wasn’t white or gray. Even the gate was some kind of black metal that looked impossibly heavy.
A guard was visible below, leaning against the gatehouse arch, a rifle slung over his shoulder.
“Only one?” asked Wylan.
“Matthias said four guards for non-operational gates.”
“Maybe Yellow Protocol is working in our favor,” said Wylan. “They could have been sent to the prison sector or—”
“Or maybe there are twelve big Fjerdans keeping warm inside.”
As he and Wylan watched, the guard opened a tin of jurda and shoved a wad of the dried orange blossoms into his mouth. He looked bored and irritated, probably frustrated to be stationed far from the fun of the Hringkälla festivities.
I don’t blame you, Jesper thought. But your life’s about to get a lot more exciting.
At least the guard was wearing an ordinary uniform instead of drüskelle black, Jesper considered, still unable to shake the image of that banner from his mind. His mother was Zemeni, but his father had the Kaelish blood that had given Jesper his gray eyes, and he’d never quite shaken the superstitions of the Wandering Isle. When Jesper had started to show his power, his father had been heartbroken. He’d encouraged Jesper to keep it hidden. “I’m afraid for you,” he’d said. “The world can be cruel to your kind.” But Jesper had always wondered if maybe his father had been a little afraid of him, too.