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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Traitor, witch, abomination. All those words came to him, but others crowded in, too: beautiful, charmed one. Röed fetla, he’d called her, little red bird, for the color of her Grisha Order. The color she loved. He squeezed harder, silencing that weak-willed strain inside him.

“If you’ve actually lost your mind, this is going to be a lot tougher than I thought,” said that raspy voice.

He heard a whoosh like something moving through the air, then a wrenching pain shot through his left shoulder. It felt like he’d been punched by a tiny fist, but his entire arm went numb. He grunted as he fell forward, one hand still clamped around Nina’s throat. He would have fallen directly onto her, but he was yanked backward by the collar of his shirt.

A boy wearing a guard’s uniform stood before him, dark eyes glittering, a pistol in one hand, a walking stick in the other. Its handle was carved to look like a crow’s head, with a cruelly pointed beak.

“Get hold of yourself, Helvar. We’re here to break you out. I can do to your leg what I did to your arm, and we can drag you out of here, or you can leave like a man, on two feet.”

“No one gets out of Hellgate,” Matthias said.

“Tonight they do.”

Matthias sat forward, trying to get his bearings, clutching his dead arm. “You can’t just walk me out of here. The guards will recognize me,” he snarled. “I’m not losing fighting privileges to be carted off Djel knows where with you.”

“You’ll be masked.”

“If the guards check—”

“They’re going to be too busy to check,” said the strange, pale boy. And then the screaming started.

Matthias’ head jerked up. He heard the thunder of footsteps from the arena, cresting like a wave as people burst into the passageway outside his cell. He heard the shouts of guards, and then the roaring of a great cat, the trumpet of an elephant.

“You opened the cages.” Nina’s voice was shaky with disbelief, though who knew what might be real or performance with her. He refused to look in her direction. If he did, he’d lose all sense of reality. He was barely hanging on as it was.

“Jesper was supposed to wait until three bells,” said the pale boy.

“It is three bells, Kaz,” replied a small girl in the corner with dark hair and deep bronze Suli skin. A figure covered in welts and bandages was leaning against her.

“Since when is Jesper punctual?” the boy complained with a glance at his watch. “On your feet, Helvar.”

He offered him a gloved hand. Matthias stared at it. This is a dream. The strangest dream I’ve ever had, but definitely a dream. Or maybe killing the wolves had finally driven him truly mad. He’d murdered family tonight. No whispered prayers for their wild souls would make it right.

He looked up at the pale demon with his black-gloved hands. Kaz, she’d called him. Would he lead Matthias out of this nightmare or just drag him into another kind of hell? Choose, Helvar.