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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“The mercher you spoke to?”

“Yes. He claims their intelligence is good. If it’s not, well, I’ll take the hit. But if Bo Yul-Bayur is alive, someone is going to try to break him out of the Ice Court. Why shouldn’t it be us?”

“The Ice Court,” Nina repeated, and Kaz knew she’d begun to put the pieces together. “You don’t just need a Corporalnik, do you?”

“No. I need someone who knows the Court inside and out.”

She leapt to her feet and began pacing, hands on hips, dressing gown flapping. “You’re a little skiv, you know that? How many times have I come to you, begging you to help Matthias? And now that you want something…”

“Per Haskell isn’t running a charity.”

“Don’t put this on the old man,” she snapped. “If you’d wanted to help me, you know you could have.”

“And why would I do that?”

She whirled on him. “Because … because…”

“When have I ever done something for nothing, Nina?”

She opened her mouth, closed it again.

“Do you know how many favors I would have had to call in? How many bribes I’d have had to pay out to get Matthias Helvar out of prison? The price was too high.”

“And now?” she managed, her eyes still blazing anger.

“Now, Helvar’s freedom is worth something.”

“It—”

He held up a hand to cut her off. “Worth something to me.”

Nina pressed her fingers to her temples. “Even if you could get to him, Matthias would never agree to help you.”

“It’s just a question of leverage, Nina.”

“You don’t know him.”

“Don’t I? He’s a person like any other, driven by greed and pride and pain. You should understand that better than anyone.”

“Helvar is driven by honor and only honor. You can’t bribe or bully that.”

“That may have been true once, Nina, but it’s been a very long year. Helvar is much changed.”

“You’ve seen him?” Her green eyes were wide, eager. There, thought Kaz, the Barrel hasn’t beaten the hope out of you yet.

“I have.”

Nina took a deep, shuddering breath. “He wants his revenge, Kaz.”

“That’s what he wants, not what he needs,” said Kaz. “Leverage is all about knowing the difference.”

 

 

 

6

 

NINA

 

The sick feeling in Nina’s stomach had nothing to do with the rocking of the rowboat. She tried to breathe deeply, to focus on the lights of the Ketterdam harbor disappearing behind them and the steady splash of the oars in the water. Beside her, Kaz adjusted his mask and cloak, while Muzzen rowed with relentless and aggressive speed, driving them closer to Terrenjel, one of Kerch’s tiny outlying islands, closer to Hellgate and Matthias.

Fog lay low over the water, damp and curling. It carried the smell of tar and machinery from the shipyards on Imperjum, and something else—the sweet stink of burning bodies from the Reaper’s Barge, where Ketterdam disposed of the dead who couldn’t afford to be buried in the cemeteries outside the city. Disgusting, Nina thought, drawing her cloak tighter around her. Why anyone would want to live in a city like this was beyond her.