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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“That’s all over now, Matthias. You are finally safe and among your own kind.” Brum frowned. “Something is troubling you.”

Matthias looked into the cell next to Nina’s, then another, and another, moving down the hall as Brum followed. Some of the captive Grisha were agitated, pacing. Others had their faces pressed up against the glass. Others simply lay on the floor. “You can’t have known about parem for more than a month. How long has this facility been here?”

“I had it built almost fifteen years ago with the blessing of the king and his council.”

Matthias drew up short. “Fifteen years? Why?”

“We needed someplace to put the Grisha after the trials.”

“After? When Grisha are found guilty, they’re sentenced to death.”

Brum shrugged. “It is still a death sentence, just one a little longer in the making. We discovered long ago that the Grisha could prove a useful resource.”

A resource. “You told me they were to be eradicated. That they were a blight on the natural world.”

“And they are—when they attempt to masquerade as men. They aren’t capable of right thinking, of human morality. They are meant to be controlled.”

“That’s why you wanted parem?” Matthias asked incredulously.

“We have tried our own methods for years with limited success.”

“But you’ve seen what jurda parem can do, what Grisha can do when in its grip—”

“A gun is not evil. Nor is a blade. Jurda parem ensures obedience. It makes Grisha what they were always meant to be.”

“A Second Army?” Matthias asked, his voice thick with scorn.

“An army is made of soldiers. These creatures were born to be weapons. They were born to serve the soldiers of Djel.” Brum squeezed his shoulder. “Ah, Matthias, how I’ve missed you. Your faith was always so pure. I’m glad you’re reluctant to embrace this measure, but this is our chance to strike a deathblow. Do you know why Grisha are so hard to kill? Because they’re not of this world. But they are very good at killing each other. They call it ‘like calls to like.’ Wait until you see all we’ve achieved, the weapons their Fabrikators have helped us develop.”

Matthias looked back down the hall. “Nina Zenik spent a year in Kerch trying to bargain for my freedom. I’m not sure those are the actions of a monster.”

“Can a viper lie still before it strikes? Can a wild dog lick your hand before it snaps at your neck? A Grisha may be capable of kindness, but that does not change her fundamental nature.”

Matthias considered this. He thought of Nina standing terrified in that cell as the door slammed shut. He had longed to see her made captive, punished as he had been punished. And yet, after everything they’d been through, he was not surprised by the pain he felt at seeing it come to pass.

“What is the Shu scientist like?” he asked Brum.

“Stubborn. Still grieving his father.”

Matthias knew nothing of Yul-Bayur’s father, but there was a more important question to ask. “Is he secure?”