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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“The treasury is the safest place on the island.”

“You keep him here with the Grisha?”

Brum nodded. “The main vault was converted to a laboratory for him.”

“And you’re sure it’s safe?”

“I have the master key,” said Brum, patting the disk hanging from his neck, “and he’s guarded night and day. Only a select few even know he’s here. It’s late, and I need to make sure Black Protocol has been addressed, but if you like, I’ll take you to see him tomorrow.” Brum placed his arm around Matthias. “And tomorrow we’ll deal with your return and reinstatement.”

“I still stand accused of slave trading.”

“We’ll get the girl to sign a statement recanting the slaving charges easily enough. Believe me, once she’s had her first taste of jurda parem, she’ll do anything you ask and more. There will be a hearing, but I swear you will wear drüskelle colors again, Matthias.”

Drüskelle colors. Matthias had worn them with such pride. And the things he’d felt for Nina had caused him so much shame. It was still with him, maybe it always would be. He’d spent too many years full of hate for it to vanish overnight. But now the shame was an echo, and all he felt was regret—for the time he’d wasted, for the pain he’d caused, and yes, even now, for what he was about to do.

He turned to Brum, this man who had become father and mentor to him. When he’d lost his family, it had been Brum who had recruited him for the drüskelle. Matthias had been young, angry, completely unskilled. But he’d given what was left of his broken heart to the cause. A false cause. A lie. When had he seen it? When he’d helped Nina bury her friend? When he’d fought beside her? Or had it been long before—when she’d slept in his arms that first night on the ice? When she’d saved him from the shipwreck?

Nina had wronged him, but she’d done it to protect her people. She’d hurt him, but she’d attempted everything in her power to make things right. She’d shown him in a thousand ways that she was honorable and strong and generous and very human, maybe more vividly human than anyone he’d ever known. And if she was, then Grisha weren’t inherently evil. They were like anyone else—full of the potential to do great good, and also great harm. To ignore that would make Matthias the monster.

“You taught me so much,” Matthias said. “You taught me to value honor and strength. You gave me the tools for vengeance when I needed them most.”

“And with those tools we will build a great future, Matthias. Fjerda’s time has finally come.”

Matthias returned his mentor’s embrace.

“I don’t know if you’re wrong about the Grisha,” he said gently. “I just know you’re wrong about her.”

He held Brum tight, in a hold Matthias had learned in the echoing training rooms of the drüskelle stronghold, rooms he would never see again. He held Brum as he struggled briefly and as his body went slack.