Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Nina’s mind was reeling—Bo Yul-Bayur, a Grisha hiding in plain sight behind the borders of the Shu Han. There was no time to let it sink in.
“We need to destroy as much of your work as we can,” she said.
“There are combustibles,” replied Kuwei, already gathering up papers and jurda samples. “I can rig an explosion.”
“Only the vault. There are Grisha here.” And guards. And Matthias’ mentor. Nina would have gladly let Brum die, but though Matthias had betrayed his commander, she doubted he’d want to see the man who’d become a second father to him blown to bits. Her heart rebelled when she thought of the Grisha she’d be leaving behind, but there was no way to get them to the harbor.
“Leave the rest,” she said to Matthias and Kuwei. “We need to move.”
Kuwei arranged a series of vials full of liquid over the burners. “I’m ready.”
They checked the corridor and hurried toward the treasury entrance. At every turn she expected to see drüskelle or guards storming their way, but they charged through the halls unimpeded. At the main door, they paused.
“There’s a hedge maze to our left,” Nina said.
Matthias nodded. “We’ll use it for cover then make a run for the ash.”
As soon as they opened the door, the clamor of the bells became almost unbearable. Nina could see the Elderclock on the highest silvery spire of the palace, its face glowing like a moon. Bright lights from the guard towers moved across the White Island, and Nina could hear the shouts of soldiers closing in around the palace.
She clung to the side of the building, following Matthias, trying to keep to the shadows.
“Hurry,” Kuwei said with a nervous glance back at the lab.
“This way,” Matthias said. “The maze—”
“Halt!” someone shouted.
Too late. Guards were racing toward them from the direction of the maze. There was nothing to do but run. They bolted past the entrance to the colonnade and into the circular courtyard. There were drüskelle everywhere—in front of them, behind them. Any moment they’d be gunned down.
That was when the explosion hit. Nina felt it before she heard it: A wave of heat lifted her off her feet and tossed her in the air, chased by a deafening boom. She came down hard on the white paving stones.
Everything was smoke and chaos. Nina struggled to her knees, ears ringing. One side of the treasury had been reduced to rubble, smoke and dust billowing into the night sky.
Matthias was already striding toward her with Kuwei. She pushed to her feet.
“Sten!” cried two guards breaking off from another group running in the direction of the treasury. “What’s your business here?”
“We were just enjoying the party!” Nina exclaimed, letting all of her real exhaustion and terror fill her voice. “And then … then…” It was embarrassingly easy to let the tears flow.
He held up his gun. “Show me your papers.”
“No papers, Lars.”