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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“Everyone shut up,” Matthias growled.

Jesper shrugged. “Fjerdans.”

“I don’t like any of this,” said Nina.

Kaz raised a brow. “Well, at least you and Helvar found something to agree on.”

*   *   *

 

Farther south they traveled, the coast long gone, the ice broken more and more by slashes of forest, glimpses of black earth and animal tracks, proof of the living world, the heart of Djel beating always. The questions from the others were ceaseless.

“How many guard towers are on the White Island again?”

“Do you think Yul-Bayur will be in the palace?”

“There are guard barracks on the White Island. What if he’s in the barracks?”

Jesper and Wylan debated which kinds of explosives might be assembled from the prison laundry supplies and if they could get their hands on some gunpowder in the embassy sector. Nina tried to help Inej estimate what her pace would have to be to scale the incinerator shaft with enough time to secure the rope and get the others to the top.

They drilled each other constantly on the architecture and procedures of the Court, the layout of the ringwall’s three gatehouses, each built around a courtyard.

“First checkpoint?”

“Four guards.”

“Second checkpoint?”

“Eight guards.”

“Ringwall gates?”

“Four when the gate is non-operational.”

They were like a maddening chorus of crows, squawking in Matthias’ ear: Traitor, traitor, traitor.

“Yellow Protocol?” asked Kaz.

“Sector disturbance,” said Inej.

“Red Protocol?”

“Sector breach.”

“Black Protocol?”

“We’re all doomed?” said Jesper.

“That about covers it,” Matthias said, pulling his hood tighter and trudging ahead. They’d even made him imitate the different patterns of the bells. A necessity, but he’d felt like a fool chanting, “Bing bong bing bing bong. No, wait, bing bing bong bing bing.”

“When I’m rich,” Jesper said behind him. “I’m going someplace I never have to see snow again. What about you, Wylan?”

“I don’t know exactly.”

“I think you should buy a golden piano—”

“Flute.”

“And play concerts on a pleasure barge. You can park it in the canal right outside your father’s house.”

“Nina can sing,” Inej put in.

“We’ll duet,” Nina amended. “Your father will have to move.”

She did have a terrible singing voice. He hated that he knew that, but he couldn’t resist glancing over his shoulder. Nina’s hood had fallen back, and the thick waves of her hair had escaped her collar.

Why do I keep doing that? he thought in a rush of frustration. It had happened aboard the ship, too. He’d tell himself to ignore her, and the next thing he knew his eyes would be seeking her out.

But it was foolish to pretend that she wasn’t in his mind. He and Nina had walked this same territory together. If his calculations were right, they’d washed up only a few miles from where the Ferolind had put into shore. It had started with a storm, and in a way, that storm had never ended. Nina had blown into his life with the wind and rain and set his world spinning. He’d been off balance ever since.