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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“Do it. I can’t wait to tell the warden your ridiculous plans.”

“What makes you think you’ll be going back with a tongue?”

“Kaz—” Nina protested.

“Do what you want,” Matthias said. He wouldn’t betray his country again.

“I told you,” said Nina.

“Don’t pretend to know me, witch,” he snarled, his eyes trained on Brekker. He wouldn’t look at her. He refused to.

Jesper unfolded himself from the corner. Now that they were out of the Hellgate gloom, Matthias could see he had deep brown Zemeni skin and incongruous gray eyes. He was built like a stork. “Without him, there’s no job,” said Jesper. “We can’t break into the Ice Court blind.”

Matthias wanted to laugh. “You can’t break into the Ice Court at all.” The Ice Court wasn’t an ordinary building. It was a compound, Fjerda’s ancient stronghold, home to an unbroken succession of kings and queens, repository of their greatest treasures and most sacred religious relics. It was impenetrable.

“Come now, Helvar,” said the demon. “Surely there’s something you want. The cause is righteous enough for a zealot like you. Fjerda may think they’ve caught a dragon by the tail, but they won’t be able to hold on. Once Bo Yul-Bayur replicates his process, jurda parem will enter the market, and it’s only a matter of time before others learn to manufacture it, too.”

“It will never happen. Yul-Bayur will stand trial, and if he is found guilty he will be put to death.”

“Guilty of what?” Nina asked softly.

“Crimes against the people.”

Which people?”

He could hear the barely leashed anger in her voice. “Natural people,” Matthias replied. “People who live in harmony with the laws of this world instead of twisting them for their own gain.”

Nina made a kind of exasperated snorting sound. The others just looked amused, smirking at the poor, backward Fjerdan. Brum had warned Matthias that the world was full of liars, pleasure seekers, faithless heathens. And there seemed to be a concentration of them in this room.

“You’re being shortsighted about this, Helvar,” said Brekker. “Another team could get to Yul-Bayur first. The Shu. Maybe the Ravkans. All with their own agendas. Border disputes and old rivalries don’t matter to the Kerch. All the Merchant Council cares about is trade, and they want to make sure jurda parem remains a rumor and nothing more.”

“So leading criminals into the heart of Fjerda to steal a valued prisoner is a patriotic act?” Matthias said scornfully.

“I don’t suppose the promise of four million kruge will sway you, either.”

Matthias spat. “You can keep your money. Choke on it.” Then a thought came to him—vile, barbaric, but the one thing that might allow him to return to Hellgate with peace in his heart even if he didn’t have a tongue in his head. He tilted back as far as his bonds would permit and focused all his attention on Brekker. “I’ll make a deal with you.”

“I’m listening.”

“I won’t go with you, but I’ll give you a plan for the layout of the Court. That should at least get you past the first checkpoint.”