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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

The room was lit by two glass lanterns on the wall. A group of guards stood facing a large iron box, shattered glass littering the floor at their feet. Some wore the purple uniform of the stadwatch, others the sea green livery of the Hoede house. Through what Kaz now understood had been an observation window, he saw another city guard standing in front of an empty table and two overturned chairs. Like the others, the guard stood with his arms loose at his sides, face blank, eyes forward, gazing at nothing. Van Eck turned up the light on one of the lanterns, and Kaz saw a body in a purple uniform slumped on the floor, eyes closed.

Van Eck sighed and crouched down to turn the body over. “We’ve lost another,” he said.

The boy was young, the bare scraps of a mustache on his upper lip.

Van Eck gave orders to the guard who had let them in, and with help from one of Van Eck’s retinue they lifted the corpse and took it from the room. The other guards didn’t react, just continued to stare ahead.

Kaz recognized one of them—Henrik Dahlman, the captain of the stadwatch.

“Dahlman?” he queried, but the man made no response. Kaz waved a hand in front of the captain’s face, then gave him a hard flick on the ear. Nothing but a slow, disinterested blink. Kaz raised his pistol and aimed it directly at the captain’s forehead. He cocked the hammer. The captain didn’t flinch, didn’t react. His pupils didn’t contract.

“He’s as good as dead,” said Van Eck. “Shoot. Blow his brains out. He won’t protest and the others won’t react.”

Kaz lowered his weapon, a chill settling deep into his bones. “What is this? What happened to them?”

“The Grisha was a Corporalnik serving her indenture with Councilman Hoede’s household. He thought because she was a Healer and not a Heartrender, he was making the safe choice to test the parem.”

Seemed smart enough. Kaz had seen Heartrenders at work. They could rupture your cells, burst your heart in your chest, steal the breath from your lungs, or lower your pulse so that you dropped into a coma, all while never laying a finger on you. If even part of what Van Eck said was true, the idea of one of them dosed with jurda parem was a daunting proposition. So the merchers had tried the drug on a Healer instead. But apparently things hadn’t gone according to plan.

“You gave her the drug, and she killed her master?”

“Not exactly,” Van Eck said, clearing his throat. “They had her in that observation cell. Within seconds of consuming the parem, she took control of the guard inside the chamber—”

“How?”

“We don’t know exactly. But whatever method she used, it allowed her to subdue these guards as well.”

“That’s not possible.”

“Isn’t it? The brain is just one more organ, a cluster of cells and impulses. Why shouldn’t a Grisha under the influence of jurda parem be able to manipulate those impulses?”