Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
“He’ll live?” Matthias asked.
“Yes,” she said as she stepped onto the schooner. “He’ll just be very bald.”
Specht shouted commands, and the Ferolind drifted into the harbor, picking up speed as the sails swelled with wind. No one ran to the docks to stop them. No ships or cannon fired. There was no one to give warning, no one to signal to the gunnery above. The Elderclock chimed on unheeded as the schooner vanished into the vast black shelter of the sea, leaving only suffering in her wake.
They’d been blessed with a strong wind. Inej felt it ripple through her hair and couldn’t help but think of the storm to come.
As soon as they were on deck, Matthias had turned to Kuwei.
“How long does she have?”
Kuwei had some Kerch, but Nina had to translate in places. She did it distractedly, her glittering eyes roving over everyone and everything.
“The high will last one hour, maybe two. It depends how long it takes her body to process a dose of that size.”
“Why can’t you just purge it from your body like the bullets?” Matthias asked Nina desperately.
“It doesn’t work,” said Kuwei. “Even if she could overcome the craving for long enough to start purging it from her body, she’ll lose the ability to pull the parem from her system before it’s all gone. You’d need another Corporalnik using parem to accomplish it.”
“What will it do to her?” asked Wylan.
“You’ve seen for yourself,” Matthias replied bitterly. “We know what’s going to happen.”
Kaz crossed his arms, “How will it start?”
“Body aches, chills, no worse than a mild illness,” Kuwei explained. “Then a kind of hypersensitivity, followed by tremors, and the craving.”
“Do you have more of the parem?” Matthias asked.
“Enough to get her back to Ketterdam?”
“I won’t take more,” Nina protested.
“I have enough to keep you comfortable,” Kuwei said. “But if you take a second dose, there is no hope at all.” He looked to Matthias. “This is her one chance. It’s possible her body will purge enough of it naturally that addiction won’t set in.”
“And if it does?”
Kuwei held out his hands, part shrug, part apology. “Without a ready supply of the drug, she’ll go mad. With it, her body will simply wear itself out. Do you know the word parem? It’s the name my father gave to the drug. It means ‘without pity.’”
When Nina finished translating, there was a long pause.
“I don’t want to hear any more,” she said. “None of it will change what’s coming.”
She drifted away toward the prow. Matthias watched her go.
“The water hears and understands,” he murmured beneath his breath.
Inej sought out Rotty and got him to dig up the wool coats she and Nina had left behind in favor of their cold weather gear when they’d landed on the northern shore. She found Nina near the prow, gazing out at the sea.