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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Before Nina, before Hellgate, he never would have considered it. Now he found he could make this bargain with himself. He would join the demon’s crew, earn his pardon, and when he was a drüskelle once more, Nina Zenik would be his first target. He’d hunt her in Kerch, in Ravka, whatever hole or corner of the world she thought would keep her safe. He would run Nina Zenik to ground and make her pay in every way imaginable. Death would be too good. He’d have her thrown into the most miserable cell in the Ice Court, where she’d never be warm again. He’d toy with her as she’d toyed with him. He’d offer her salvation and then deny it. He’d gift her with affection and small kindnesses then snatch them away. He would savor every tear she shed and replace that sweet green flower scent with the salt of her sorrow on his tongue.

Even so, the words were bitter in Matthias’ mouth when he said, “I’ll do it.”

Brekker winked at Nina, and Matthias wanted to knock his teeth in. When I’ve dealt Nina her life’s share of misery, I’ll come for you. He’d caught witches; how different could it be to slay a demon?

The bronze girl folded up the document and handed it to Brekker, who slipped it into his breast pocket. Matthias felt like he was watching an old friend, one he’d never hoped to see again, vanish into a crowd, and he was powerless to call out.

“We’re going to untie you,” said Brekker. “I hope prison hasn’t robbed you of all your manners or good sense.”

Matthias nodded, and the bronze girl took a knife to the ropes binding him. “I believe you know Nina,” Brekker continued. “The lovely girl freeing you is Inej, our thief of secrets and the best in the trade. Jesper Fahey is our sharpshooter, Zemeni-born but try not to hold it against him, and this is Wylan, best demolitions expert in the Barrel.”

“Raske is better,” Inej said.

The boy looked up, ruddy gold hair flopping in his eyes, and spoke for the first time. “He’s not better. He’s reckless.”

“He knows his trade.”

“So do I.”

“Barely,” Jesper said.

“Wylan is new to the scene,” admitted Brekker.

“Of course he’s new, he looks like he’s about twelve,” retorted Matthias.

“I’m sixteen,” said Wylan sullenly.

Matthias doubted that. Fifteen at the most. The boy didn’t even look like he’d started shaving. In fact, at eighteen, Matthias suspected that he was the oldest of the bunch. Brekker’s eyes were ancient, but he couldn’t be any older than Matthias.

For the first time, Matthias really looked at the people around him. What kind of team is this for a mission so perilous? Treason wouldn’t be an issue if they were all dead. And only he knew exactly how treacherous this endeavor might prove.

“We should be using Raske,” Jesper said. “He’s good under pressure.”

“I don’t like it,” agreed Inej.