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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

And Van Eck saw it. He blew on his whistle. “Leave the others! Get the money and the girl.”

Hold your ground, Kaz’s instincts said. Van Eck has the money. He is the key. Inej can fend for herself. She’s a pawn, not the prize. But he was already turning, already sprinting to get to her as the Grisha attacked.

The Tidemakers reached her first, vanishing into mist, then reappearing at her side. But only a fool would to try to take Inej in close combat. The Tidemakers were fast—vanishing and reappearing, grabbing at her. But she was the Wraith, and her knives found heart, throat, spleen. Blood spilled over the sand as the Tidemakers collapsed in two very solid heaps.

Kaz caught movement from the corner of his eye—a Squaller hurtling toward Inej.

“Jesper!” he shouted.

Jesper fired, and the Squaller plummeted to the earth.

The next Squaller was smarter. He came in low, gliding over the ruins. Jesper and Matthias opened fire, but they had to face the sun to shoot and not even Jesper could aim blind. The Squaller barreled into Inej and sped upward with her into the sky.

Stay still, Kaz urged her silently, his pistol drawn. But she didn’t. Her body spun, and she slashed out. The Squaller’s scream was distant. He released her. Inej fell, plunging toward the sand. Kaz ran toward her without logic or plan.

A blur cut through his vision. A third Squaller swooped down, snatching her up seconds before impact and dealing her a vicious blow to the skull. Kaz saw Inej’s body go limp.

“Bring him down!” roared Matthias.

“No!” shouted Kaz. “Shoot him and she falls, too!”

The Grisha dodged up and out of range, Inej clutched in his arms.

There was nothing they could do but stand there like fools and watch her shape get smaller in the sky—a distant moon, a fading star, then gone.

Van Eck’s guards and Grisha closed in, sweeping the mercher and the trunk of kruge through the air, onto the waiting brigantine. Vengeance for Jordie, all Kaz had worked for, was slipping away. He didn’t care.

“You have one week to bring me the real Kuwei,” Van Eck shouted. “Or they’ll hear that girl’s screams all the way back in Fjerda. And if that still doesn’t move you, I’ll let it be known that you’re harboring the most valuable hostage in the world. Every gang, government, smuggler, and spy will be after you and the Dregs. You’ll have nowhere to hide.”

“Kaz, I can make the shot,” said Jesper, holstering his revolvers and grabbing for his rifle. “Van Eck is still in range.”

And all would be lost—Inej, the money, everything.

“No,” Kaz said. “Let them go.”

The sea was flat; no breeze blew, but Van Eck’s remaining Squallers filled the ship’s sails with a driving wind.

Kaz watched the brigantine surge across the water toward Ketterdam, to safety, to a fortress built on Van Eck’s impeccable mercher reputation. He felt as he had looking into the darkened windows of the house on Zelverstraat. Helpless once more. He’d prayed to the wrong god.