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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

When she touched her fingers to the wound at her side, they came away wet. Too much blood. Footsteps. Someone was coming. She couldn’t climb, not with this wound, not with the amount of blood she’d lost. She remembered her father putting her on the rope ladder the first time. Climb, Inej.

The cargo containers were stacked like a pyramid here. If she could make it up just one, she could hide herself on the first level. Just one. She could climb or she could stand there and die.

She willed her mind to clarity and hopped up, fingertips latching on to the top of the crate. Climb, Inej. She dragged herself over the edge onto the tin roof of the container.

It felt so good to lie there, but she knew she’d left a trail of blood behind her. One more, she told herself. One more and you’ll be safe. She forced herself up to her knees and reached for the next crate.

The surface beneath her began to rock. She heard laughter from below.

“Come out, come out, Wraith! We have secrets to tell!”

Desperately, she reached for the lip of the next crate again and gripped it, fighting through an onslaught of pain as the container under her dropped away. Then she was just hanging, legs dangling helplessly down. They didn’t open fire; they wanted her alive.

“Come on down, Wraith!”

She didn’t know where the strength came from but she managed to pull herself over the top. She lay on the crate’s roof, panting.

Just one more. But she couldn’t. Couldn’t push to her knees, couldn’t reach, couldn’t even roll. It hurt too much. Climb, Inej.

“I can’t, Papa,” she whispered. Even now she hated to disappoint him.

Move, she told herself. This is a stupid place to die. And yet a voice in her head said there were worse places. She would die here, in freedom, beneath the beginnings of dawn. She’d die after a worthy fight, not because some man had tired of her or required more from her than she could give. Better to die here by her own blade than with her face painted and her body swathed in false silks.

A hand seized her ankle. They’d climbed the crates. Why hadn’t she heard them? Was she that far gone? They had her. Someone was turning her onto her back.

She slid the dagger from the sheath at her wrist. In the Barrel, a blade this sharp was known as kind steel. It meant a quick death. Better that than torture at the mercy of the Black Tips or the Razorgulls.

May the Saints receive me. She pressed the tip beneath her breast, between her ribs, an arrow to her heart. Then a hand gripped her wrist painfully, forcing her to drop the blade.

“Not just yet, Inej.”

The rasp of stone on stone. Her eyes flew open. Kaz.

He bundled her into his arms and leapt down from the crates, landing roughly, his bad leg buckling.