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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Fool, he thought. And then he was in the dark.

*   *   *


Kaz woke to the sharp scent of ammonia. His head jerked back as he returned fully to consciousness.

The old man in front of him wore the robes of a university medik. He had a bottle of wuftsalts in his hand that he was waving beneath Kaz’s nose. The stink was nearly unbearable.

“Get away from me,” Kaz rasped.

The medik eyed him dispassionately, returning the wuftsalts to their leather pouch. Kaz flexed his fingers, but that was all he could do. He’d been shackled to a chair with his arms behind his back. Whatever they’d injected him with had left him groggy.

The medik moved aside, and Kaz blinked twice, trying to clear his vision and make sense of the absurd luxury of his surroundings. He’d expected to wake in the den of the Black Tips or some other rival gang. But this wasn’t cheap Barrel flash. A squat decked out like this took real money—mahogany panels dense with carvings of frothing waves and flying fish, shelves lined with books, leaded windows, and he was fairly sure that was a real DeKappel. One of those demure oil portraits of a lady with a book open in her lap and a lamb lying at her feet. The man observing him from behind a broad desk had the prosperous look of a mercher. But if this was his house, why were there armed members of the stadwatch guarding the door?

Damn it, Kaz thought, am I under arrest? If so, this merch was in for a surprise. Thanks to Inej, he had information on every judge, bailiff, and high councilman in Kerch. He’d be out of his cell before sunrise. Except he wasn’t in a cell, he was chained to a chair, so what the hell was going on?

The man was in his forties with a gaunt but handsome face and a hairline making a determined retreat from his forehead. When Kaz met his gaze, the man cleared his throat and pressed his fingers together.

“Mister Brekker, I hope you’re not feeling too poorly.”

“Get this old canker away from me. I feel fine.”

The merch gave a nod to the medik. “You may go. Please send me your bill. And I would, of course, appreciate your discretion in this matter.”

The medik secured his bag and exited the room. As he did, the mercher rose and picked up a sheaf of papers from his desk. He wore the perfectly cut frock coat and vest of all Kerch merchants—dark, refined, deliberately staid. But the pocket watch and tie pin told Kaz all he needed to know: Heavy links of laurel leaves made up the watch’s gold fob, and the pin was a massive, perfect ruby.

I’m going to pry that fat jewel from its setting and jab the pin right through your mercher neck for chaining me to a chair, Kaz thought. But all he said was, “Van Eck.”