Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
She had no idea what to do, but it seemed rumors of a new Grisha Corporalnik in Ketterdam had already circulated through the city. Pekka Rollins’ men had been waiting for her at the harbor with the promise of safety and a place to stay. They’d taken her to the Emerald Palace, where Pekka himself had leaned heavily on Nina to join the Dime Lions and had offered to set her up in business at the Sweet Shop. She’d been close to saying yes, desperate for cash and terrified of the slavers who patrolled the streets. But that night, Inej had crawled through her window on the top floor of the Emerald Palace with a proposal from Kaz Brekker in hand.
Nina never could figure out how Inej had managed to scale six rain-slick stories of stone in the middle of the night, but the Dregs’ terms were far more favorable than those offered by Pekka and the Dime Lions. It was a contract that she might actually pay off in a year or two if she was smart with her money. And Kaz had sent the right person to argue his case—a Suli girl just a few months younger than Nina who had grown up in Ravka and who had spent a very ugly year indentured at the Menagerie.
“What can you tell me about Per Haskell?” Nina had asked that night.
“Not much,” Inej had admitted. “He’s no better or worse than most of the bosses in the Barrel.”
“And Kaz Brekker?”
“A liar, a thief, and utterly without conscience. But he’ll keep to any deal you strike with him.”
Nina had heard the conviction in her voice. “He freed you from the Menagerie?”
“There is no freedom in the Barrel, only good terms. Tante Heleen’s girls never earn out of their contracts. She makes sure they don’t. She—” Inej had broken off then, and Nina had sensed the vibrant anger coursing through her. “Kaz convinced Per Haskell to pay off my indenture. I would have died at the Menagerie.”
“You may still die in the Dregs.”
Inej’s dark eyes had glinted. “I may. But I’ll die on my feet with a knife in my hand.”
The next morning, Inej had helped Nina sneak out of the Emerald Palace. They’d met with Kaz Brekker, and despite his cold ways and those strange leather gloves, she’d agreed to join the Dregs and work out of the White Rose. Less than two days later, a girl died at the Sweet Shop, strangled in her bed by a customer dressed as Mister Crimson who was never found.
Nina had trusted Inej, and she hadn’t been sorry for it, though right now she just felt furious with everyone. She watched a group of Dime Lions prod the desert lizard with long spears. Apparently, the monster was sated after its meal; it allowed itself to be herded back to the tunnel, its thick body moving side to side in a lazy, sinuous roll.