Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Kaz rose. “Well, Van Eck. I’d like to say it’s been a pleasure, but I’m not that good a liar. We’ll take our leave.”
Van Eck stepped in front of Kuwei and said, “I’m afraid I can’t allow that, Mister Brekker.”
Kaz leaned on his cane, watching Van Eck keenly. “Is there a problem?”
“I count several right in front of me. And there’s no way any of you are getting off this island.”
Van Eck pulled a whistle from his pocket and blew a shrill note. In the same moment, his servants drew their weapons and a wind came out of nowhere—a howling, unnatural gale that whirled around the little island as the sea began to rise.
The sailors by the brigantine’s longboat lifted their arms, waves gathering behind them.
“Tidemakers,” growled Matthias, reaching for his rifle.
Then two more figures launched themselves from the deck of the brigantine.
“Squallers!” Jesper shouted. “They’re using parem!”
The Squallers circled in the sky, wind whipping the air around them.
“You kept part of the stash Yul-Bayur sent to the Council,” said Kaz, dark eyes narrowed.
The Squallers lifted their arms, and the wind wailed a high, keening cry.
Jesper reached for his revolvers. Hadn’t he wanted something to shoot at? I guess this place is good luck, he thought with a rush of anticipation. Looks like I’m about to get my wish.
“The deal is the deal, Van Eck,” Kaz said over the sounds of the growing storm. “If the Merchant Council fails to honor its end of this bargain, no one from the Barrel will ever traffic with any of you again. Your word will be meaningless.”
“That would be a problem, Mister Brekker, if the Council knew anything about this deal.”
Understanding came in a terrible flash. “They were never involved,” Kaz said. Why had he believed Van Eck had the blessing of the Merchant Council? Because he was a rich, upstanding mercher? Because he’d dressed his own servants and soldiers in the purple uniforms of the stadwatch? Kaz had met with Van Eck in a quarantined mercher’s house, not a government building, but he’d been taken in by a little set dressing. It was Hertzoon and his coffeehouse all over again, only now Kaz was old enough to know better.
“You wanted Yul-Bayur. You wanted the formula for parem.”
Van Eck conceded the truth with an easy nod. “Neutrality is a luxury Kerch has too long enjoyed. The members of the Council think that their wealth protects them, that they can sit back and count their money while the world squabbles.”
“And you know better?”
“Indeed, I do. Jurda parem is not a secret that can be kept or quashed or stashed in a cabin on the Zemeni frontier.”
“So all your talk of trade lines and markets collapsing—”
“Oh, it will all happen just as I predicted, Mister Brekker. I’m counting on it. As soon as the Council received Bo Yul-Bayur’s message, I began buying up jurda fields in Novyi Zem. When parem is unleashed on the world, every country, every government will be clamoring for a ready supply of it to use on their Grisha.”