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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Two months. Nina would serve her time and return to Ravka four million kruge richer, never giving him another thought. But if this pardon was real, then he could go home, too.

Home. He’d imagined breaking out of Hellgate plenty of times, but he’d never really put his mind to the idea of escape. What life was there for him on the outside, with the charge of slaver hanging around his neck? He could never return to Fjerda. Even if he could have borne the disgrace, he’d have lived each day as a fugitive from the Kerch government, a marked man. He knew he could eke out a life for himself in Novyi Zem, but what would have been the point?

This was something different. If the demon Brekker spoke the truth, Matthias would get to go home. The longing for it twisted in his chest—to hear his language spoken, to see his friends again, taste semla filled with sweet almond paste, feel the bite of the northern wind as it came roaring over the ice. To return home and be welcomed there without the burden of dishonor. With his name cleared, he could return to his life as a drüskelle. And the price would be treason.

“What if Bo Yul-Bayur is dead?” he asked Brekker.

“Van Eck insists he isn’t.”

But how could the merchant Kaz spoke of truly understand Fjerdan ways? If there hadn’t been a trial yet, there would be, and Matthias could easily predict the outcome. His people would never free a man with such terrible knowledge.

“But what if he is, Brekker?”

“You still get your pardon.”

Even if their quarry was already on his way to the afterlife, Matthias would have his freedom. At what cost, though? He’d made mistakes before. He’d been foolish enough to trust Nina. He’d been weak, and he would carry that shame for the rest of his life. But he’d paid for his stupidity in blood and misery and the stink of Hellgate. And his crimes had been meager things, the actions of a naive boy. This was so much worse. To reveal the secrets of the Ice Court, to see his homeland once more only to know that every step he took there was an act of treason—could he do such a thing?

Brum would have laughed in their faces, torn that pardon to pieces. But Kaz Brekker was smart. He clearly had resources. What if Matthias said no and against all odds Brekker and his crew still found their way into the Ice Court and stole the Shu scientist? Or what if Brekker was right and another country got there first? It sounded like parem was too addictive to be useful to Grisha, but what if the formula fell into Ravkan hands, and they somehow managed to adapt it? To make Ravka’s Grisha, its Second Army, even stronger? If he was part of this mission, Matthias could make sure Bo Yul-Bayur never took another breath outside the Ice Court’s walls, or he could arrange for some kind of accident on the trip back to Kerch.