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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Kaz’s disbelief must have shown.

“Look at these people,” Van Eck insisted. “She told them to wait. And that’s exactly what they’ve done—that’s all they’ve done since.”

Kaz studied the silent group more closely. Their eyes weren’t blank or dead, their bodies weren’t quite at rest. They were expectant. He suppressed a shiver. He’d seen peculiar things, extraordinary things, but nothing like what he’d witnessed tonight.

“What happened to Hoede?”

“She commanded him to open the door, and when he did, she ordered him to cut the thumb from his hand. We only know how it all happened because a kitchen boy was present. The Grisha girl left him untouched, but he claims Hoede carved away his own thumb, smiling all the while.”

Kaz didn’t like the idea of some Grisha moving things around in his head. But he wouldn’t be surprised if Hoede deserved whatever he’d gotten. During Ravka’s civil war, a lot of Grisha had fled the fighting and paid their way to Kerch by becoming indentures without realizing that they’d essentially sold themselves into slavery.

“The merch is dead?”

“Councilman Hoede lost a great deal of blood, but he’s in the same state as these men. He’s been removed to the country with his family and the staff from his house.”

“Did the Grisha Healer go back to Ravka?” Kaz asked.

Van Eck gestured Kaz out of the eerie boathouse and locked the door behind them.

“She may have attempted it,” he said as they retraced their steps through the garden and along the side of the house. “We know she secured a small craft, and we suspect she was headed to Ravka, but we found her body washed up two days ago near Third Harbor. We think she drowned trying to get back into the city.”

“Why would she come back here?”

“For more jurda parem.”

Kaz thought of Mikka’s glittering eyes and waxy skin. “It’s that addictive?”

“It seems to take only one dose. Once the drug has run its course, it leaves the Grisha’s body weakened and the craving is intense. It’s quite debilitating.”

Quite debilitating seemed like a bit of an understatement. The Council of Tides controlled entry to the Ketterdam harbors. If the drugged Healer had tried to return at night in a smallboat, she wouldn’t have had much of a chance against the current. Kaz thought of Mikka’s gaunt face, the way his clothes hung from his body. The drug had done that to him. He’d been high on jurda parem and already greedy for the next dose. He’d also looked ready to keel over. How long could a Grisha go on that way?

It was an interesting question, but not relevant to the matter at hand. They’d arrived at the front gate. It was time to settle up.

“Thirty million kruge,” Kaz said.

“We said twenty!” sputtered Van Eck.

You said twenty. It’s clear you’re desperate.” Kaz glanced back in the direction of the boathouse, where a room full of men simply waited to die. “And now I see why.”