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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

He shrugged and steered her down a corridor. “Some are better. Some are worse. If I find you a lively one, what will be my reward?”

“It would be easier to show you,” she purred.

Nina had had enough of seeing starving, frightened Grisha. She needed Yul-Bayur. Brum must know where he was. The treasury was nearly deserted. They hadn’t seen a single guard inside. If she could get Brum into an empty corridor far enough from the entrance that the guards couldn’t hear them … Could she torture a hardened drüskelle? Could she make him talk? She thought she just might be able to. She’d seal his nose, put pressure on his larynx. A few minutes gasping for breath might soften him up.

“Maybe we could find a quiet corner?” Nina suggested.

Brum preened, his chest puffing out. “This way, dirre,” he said using the Kaelish word for sweetheart.

He led her down a deserted hall, unlocking the door with his circular key.

“This should do,” he said with a bow. “A bit of privacy and a bit of charm.”

Nina winked and sashayed past him. She’d expected some kind of office or retiring room for the guards. But there was no desk, no cot. The room was completely bare—except for the drain at the center of the floor.

She whirled in time to see the cell door slam shut.

“No!” she shouted, hands scrabbling over the surface of the door. It had no handle.

Brum’s face appeared in the window. His expression was smug, his eyes cold. “I may have exaggerated the charm, but there is plenty of privacy, Nina.”

She recoiled.

“That is your name, isn’t it?” he said. “Did you really think I wouldn’t recognize you? I remember your stubborn little face from the slaving ship, and we have files on every one of Ravka’s active Grisha. I make it my business to know them all—even the ones I hope have been swallowed by the sea.”

Nina lifted her hands.

“Go ahead,” he said. “Burst my eyes in their sockets. Crush my heart in my chest. That door won’t unlock, and in the time it takes you to tamper with my pulse, I’ll press this button.” She couldn’t see the brass button, but she could imagine his finger hovering over it. “Do you know what it does? You’ve seen the effects of jurda parem. Would you like to feel them, too? It is effective as a powder, but even more so as a gas.”

Nina froze.

“Smart girl.” His grin lifted the hair on her arms. I will not beg, she told herself. But she knew she would. Once the drug was in her system, she wouldn’t be able to stop it. She took a breath of clean air. A futile gesture, even childish, but she was determined to hold it as long as she could.

Then Brum paused. “No. This vengeance is not mine to take. There is someone else who owes you so much more.” He vanished from the window and a moment later, Matthias’ face filled the glass. He looked back at her, his eyes hard.