Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Nina lifted a hand. Nothing happened, and Matthias knew what Brum was saying was true.
“Go!” Matthias shouted at them. “Please! You—”
Brum lifted his gun and fired. The bullet struck Matthias directly in the chest. The pain was sudden and terrible—and then gone. Before his eyes, he saw the bullet emerge from his chest. It hit the ground with a plink. He pulled his shirt open. There was no wound.
Nina was walking past him. “No!” he cried.
The drüskelle opened fire on her. He saw her flinch as the bullets struck her body, saw red blooms of blood appear on her chest, her breasts, her bare thighs. But she did not fall. As fast as the bullets tore through her body, she healed herself, and the shells fell harmlessly to the dock.
The drüskelle gaped at Nina. She laughed. “You’ve grown too used to captive Grisha. We’re quite tame in our cages.”
“There are other means,” said Brum, pulling a long whip like the one Lars had used from his belt. “Your power cannot touch us, witch, and our cause is true.”
“I can’t touch you,” said Nina, raising her hands. “But I can reach them just fine.”
Behind the drüskelle, the Fjerdan soldiers Nina had put to sleep rose, their faces blank. One tore the whip from Brum’s hand, the others snatched the hoods and masks from the startled drüskelle’s faces, rendering them vulnerable.
Nina flexed her fingers, and the drüskelle dropped their rifles, hands going to their heads, screaming in pain.
“For my country,” she said. “For my people. For every child you put to the pyre. Reap what you’ve sown, Jarl Brum.”
Matthias watched the drüskelle twitch and convulse, blood trickling from their ears and eyes as the other Fjerdan soldiers looked on impassively. Their screams were a chorus. Claas, who had drunk too much with him in Avfalle. Giert, who’d trained his wolf to eat from his hand. They were monsters, he knew it, but boys as well, boys like him—taught to hate, to fear.
“Nina,” he said, hand still pressed over the smooth skin on his chest where a bullet wound should be. “Nina, please.”
“You know they would not offer you mercy, Matthias.”
“I know. I know. But let them live in shame instead.”
“Nina, you taught me to be something better. They could be taught, too.”
Nina shifted her gaze to his. Her eyes were ferocious, the deep green of forests; the pupils, dark wells. The air around her seemed to shimmer with power, as if she was alight with some secret flame.
“They fear you as I once feared you,” he said. “As you once feared me. We are all someone’s monster, Nina.”
For a long moment, she studied his face. At last, she dropped her arms, and the ranks of drüskelle crumpled to the ground, whimpering. She released the other soldiers, and they fell back into their slumber, puppets with their strings cut. Then her hand shot out once more, and Brum shrieked. He clapped his hands to his head, blood trickling between his fingers.